If Tampa Bay quarterback Tom Brady was the most interesting person on the field at last Sunday’s Super Bowl, the runner-up had to be Sarah Thomas, the Brandon woman who has been an NFL referee for the past six seasons.

Thomas is a down judge, one of two officials who are stationed on the line of scrimmage. She’s always easy to spot on an NFL broadcast because of her blonde ponytail.

Her Super Bowl assignment, which made her the first female official in the NFL’s championship game, was an interesting story, and one in which Mississippi sports fans can take pride. But working any playoff game is important because the officials are chosen for it based on their performance during the regular season.

That means Thomas earned her way onto the field Sunday instead of being selected as a public-relations effort to spotlight the league’s only female official.

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