University of Phoenix Stadium
At a game on August 15, 2015, a short meeting of Jen Walter, the first female NFL coach, and Sarah Thomas, the first female NFL referee symbolized the breaking of barriers for women in the NFL.
Image of inside of stadium, which opened with a ceremonial groundbreaking on April 12, 2003.
Backstory and Context
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.