GIRLS RULE (Seriously, A Girl Rules as First Female NFL Replay Official in Booth)
Photo via AIAFA
Terri Valenti has made history as the first female replay official in the booth in NFL history. She joins Sarah Thomas, hired full-time in 2015 as a line judge, as the two female officials hired by the league in the past three years.
Valenti has worked instant replay for the NFL for the past five seasons, including a Super Bowl, serving as a replay communicator from 2012-15 and a replay assistant in 2016 before being promoted to her current position for the fast approaching 2017 season.
“To be here at this point is just awesome,” said Valenti, meeting with reporters at the NFL’s Annual Officiating Clinic on Friday in Irving, Texas. “The roles I’ve had in the past have supported the replay official and getting that information to person needs to do his or her job effectively. Now I’m point person for a (replay) team at each field.”
The NFL has changed its replay system heading into the 2017 season. Final decisions on plays under review will be made at a centralized location in New York. Previously, the referee on the field made the final decision after watching a video replay on-site at the stadium. Valenti, as a member of the officiating crew at the stadium, will serve as the go-between for the referee and the New York office.
Valenti also has on-field experience as an official, paving the path for future female officials in 2009 when she became the first female to officiate a professional football game in the United Football League. Thomas was hired by the UFL a season later.
Valenti has also worked Arena League games and was named Official of the Year in the Arena League in 2015. Before that, beginning in 1999, she officiated high school games, college games, and international league games. She joined the NFL in 2012.
As for the question about “being a woman in a man’s world of football”, Valenti has an amusing reply.
“I have five sons so I understand boys a lot,” she told AP sportswriter Stephen Hawkins. “It’s just natural for me, doing it at home for 33 years.”
Valenti is not the only female getting a promotion among NFL Officials this year. Thomas was promoted earlier this offseason from line judge to down judge (formerly called ‘head linesman’). Click here for more on Thomas’ new role and the way she has changed the vernacular of football.