NEW YORK — Maia Chaka on Friday was named the first Black woman to join the NFL’s on-field officiating staff, the league announced.
Chaka joins Sarah Thomas as the first women to officiate an NFL game. Thomas, who was hired in 2015, worked Super Bowl LV last month.
The NFL announced Chaka’s hiring during a segment on “Today.”
“It didn’t really hit me until just now,” Chaka said on “Today.” “When I saw the introduction, I’m like, ‘This is really real,’ because this is just something that we’re just always taught to work hard for. Sometimes we just don’t take time to stop and smell our own roses.
“I’ve just been grinding for so long at this, it’s just an honor to be able to join the National Football League.”
Chaka has officiated at the college level, including stints in the Pac-12 Conference and Conference USA. She also has pro experience from working in the XFL during the 2020 season, according to Bleacher Report. That league’s season was cut short by the coronavirus pandemic.
Chaka and Thomas made history in 2014 when they became the first female officials to work an FBS bowl game, between Washington and BYU, “Today” reported.
In 2014, Chaka was chosen for the NFL’s Officiating Development Program, which identifies top collegiate officiating talent to expose them to some of the same experiences as NFL officials, the league said in a news release.