NFL history made: Two female coaches and a female official on field for same game in Cleveland


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Sunday’s matchup between the Cleveland Browns and the Washington Football Team made history as two female coaches and a female official were all on the field for the game. Browns chief of staff Callie Brownson, Washington full-year coaching intern Jennifer King and NFL official Sarah Thomas are paving the way for women in sports, one game at a time.

Washington-Browns was the first NFL game to see a female coach on each sideline with a female referee, and the trio celebrated the momentous occasion with a photo before the game.

King is the first Black woman to serve as a coach. In 2018, she earned this accolade as a coaching intern with the Carolina Panthers. When former Panthers head coach Ron Rivera made the move to Washington, King came along. 

Before the game, Rivera tweeted, “As I am doing my final pregame prep a sense of pride has come to me. I can’t help but think of the historic significance of today. Very happy for all the women involved in our @nfl game & very proud of @JenniferKing5 #GameChanger”

“All we’re doing is just creating opportunities for people who deserve it,” Rivera said.

In 2015, Thomas became the first female official in the NFL and in January of 2019 she became the first woman to to officiate a game. Her first game officiating was for the New England Patriots‘ home divisional round playoff game against the Los Angeles Chargers. She was the down judge for Washington-Browns.

Brownson coached high school football, then coached at Dartmouth and in 2019 was hired as a full-season intern by Sean McDermott of the Buffalo Bills. Kevin Stefanski hired her shortly after he took the head coaching job with the Browns. Before her coaching career, Brownson played in the Women’s Football Alliance.

Players, teams, other members of NFL teams and media as well as fans showed support for the trio.

The moment is the first of its kind, but aims to help propel the movement of gender equality in sports.

The Browns defeated Washington 34-20. 





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