Super Bowl LV: Meet the women making NFL history in 2021


At the 2021 Super Bowl, three women will be making history: referee Sarah Thomas and Tampa Bay Buccaneers assistant coaches Maral Javadifar and Lori Locust.

Sarah Thomas, who is currently in her sixth season as an NFL referee, will become the first woman to officiate a Super Bowl. It’s one of many “firsts” that Thomas has accomplished in her career. In 2015, she was named the NFL’s first full-time female official. Two years ago, she became the first woman to officiate a postseason NFL game.

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Meanwhile, Maral Javadifar and Lori Locust will become the second and third women to coach in a Super Bowl. If the Buccaneers win, Javadifar and Locust will become the first female coaches to win a Super Bowl title. Locust is a defensive line assistant, while Javadifar serves as an assistant strength and conditioning coach.

Prior to the 2021 Super Bowl, here are a few of the other pioneering women who made NFL and Super Bowl history:

  • In 1975, Jeannie Morris became the first woman to report live from the Super Bowl (read more on Morris’ life here)
  • In 1987, Gayle Sierens became the first woman to ever call play-by-play of an NFL game (more on Sierens’ experience here)
  • In 1997, Amy Trask became the chief executive of the Oakland Raiders, the first woman to hold that role in the NFL (more on Trask’s journey here)
  • In 2015, Jen Welter became the first female coach in NFL history when the Arizona Cardinals hired her to an intern position
  • In 2016, Kathryn Smith became the NFL’s first full-time female coach when she was named special teams quality control coach for the Buffalo Bills
  • In 2020, Katie Sowers – then with the San Francisco 49ers – became the first woman to coach in the Super Bowl (more on Sowers’ inspiration here)
  • In January 2021, Jennifer King was promoted to assistant running backs coach of Washington, making her the first Black woman to serve as a full-time NFL coach

[Related: Toyota Super Bowl commercial features Paralympic swimmer Jessica Long]

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