Maia Chaka left her footprint in NFL history after becoming the first Black woman to officiate an NFL game. The 38-year-old line judge made her debut on Sunday during a match between the Carolina Panthers and the New York Jets in North Carolina.
“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,” she said in a video released by the NFL.
Chaka joined the NFL’s Officiating Development Program in 2014 and has a career as a health and physical education teacher in Virginia Beach public schools.
She is the third on-field female official in the NFL. Shannon Eastin was the first woman to officiate an NFL game in 2012 and Sarah Thomas became the first full-time female game official in 2015.
Chaka’s addition to the roster of game officials for 2021 was announced by the NFL in March. An article on the CBS Sports website points out that Chaka’s addition is “a monumental achievement when considering the NFL is more than 100 years old.”
Chaka hopes she can inspire others to step out of the box and try different things. She also considers her achievement as an accomplishment for all women, her community and her culture.
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