Prior to the start of a preseason game between the Arizona Cardinals and Kansas City Chiefs, a brief exchange between coach Jen Welter and NFL official Sarah Thomas grabbed headlines as a symbol of the breaking of the NFL's gender barrier. Jen Welter played as a forward on her collegiate rugby team and became the first woman to play a non-kicking position on a men's professional football team then she played running back for the Texas Revolution of the Indoor Football League. She even became the teams coach in February 2015. Welter was offered a six-week internship for the Cardinals in July, which she took as an inside line-backers coach.
Sarah Thomas played basketball in college where she also began refereeing football amateur games. She was the first woman to officiate a major college football game and the first woman to work as a referee at a bowl game. The night of the Cardinal/Chief game was actually Thomas' first game as a full-time on-field official.