With the NFL set to hire its first full-time, non-lockout-replacement female official, Jaguars defensive tackle Sen’Derrick Marks wonders whether the move is more about publicity than it is about ensuring that the best officials are hired to work NFL games.
“It’s just like the Michael Sam situation — if he wasn’t gay, he would have gone undrafted,’’ Marks told TMZ, via Vito Stellino of the Florida Times Union. “Instead, the league drafts him because I think they are trying to monopolize every aspect of the world. The same thing with a female ref. For the league, it’s great publicity. The NFL is all about monopolizing every opportunity.’’
Marks has no problem with the hire, assuming that Sarah Thomas deserves the position.
“Ain’t nothing wrong with it, especially as long as she knows what she’s doing,” Marks said.
Presumably, Thomas knows what she’s doing; she had worked her way up to the highest levels of college football and qualified for NFL preseason games before landing with the NFL on a full-time basis. But it’s fair to at least wonder whether a desire to undo the considerable damage done to The Shield due to the bungling of the Ray Rice case and a longstanding lack of sensitivity to domestic violence influenced the process that resulted in the hiring of Sarah Thomas — and whether it likewise will affect the manner in which the league office applies grades to her performance.
There’s no reason to think the NFL won’t apply the same standards and rules and grades to all officials. But now that the NFL has hired a full-time female official, the NFL needs to be prepared to treat Sarah Thomas exactly the same way any other official would be treated. The players and coaches likewise must be prepared, and expected, to treat her with the highest level of dignity and respect, which traditionally has been afforded to game officials.’
Then again, the highest level of dignity and respect isn’t always afforded to game officials, in any sport. Just ask Bill Belichick or Bill Cowher or Marv Levy or Jerry Glanville or any of these 10 folks.