Maia Chaka made history today, becoming the first Black woman to officiate an NFL game.
“When I step on the field for the first time as an NFL official, it’s going to be a proud moment,” she said in a video posted online before her first officiated matchup. “It’s a proud moment for myself. It’s a proud moment for my family. It’s a proud moment for my community and my students and coworkers.”
Chaka noted that she was proud to be able to represent women of color in one of the most watched sports in the United States.
“This historic moment to me is an honor and it’s a privilege that I’ve been chosen to represent women and women of color in the most popular sport in America, proving that I can defy the odds and overcome and pretty much master a craft of a sport that I didn’t really play, but I have a love and a passion for,” Chaka said.
“And hopefully that just gives somebody else, you know, some inspiration and empowers them to step outside the box and do something different,” she added.
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Chaka was a line judge in a game between the New York Jets and Carolina Panthers on Sunday afternoon.
Although the league was founded more than a hundred years ago, the NFL has only had three women work as on-field officials.
Sarah Thomas and Shannon Eastin are the only other two women to have officiated NFL games apart from Chaka, according to the network.
Chaka participated in an NFL officiating development program in 2014.
Earlier this year, she was added to their roster of NFL game officials.