Maia Chaka has made history. As of late, the NFL has taken up the mantle in working passionately to stimulate equality in its ranks. That includes making sure the world understands women are not only welcome in the sport of football, but that they can and are already an integral part of its increasingly growing success. In 2020, the spotlight was on a Tampa Bay Buccaneers staff when Lori Locust and Maral Javadifar carved a path for women looking to make a name for themselves on NFL coaching staffs, and also Sarah Thomas, who became the first woman to ever officiate a Super Bowl.
"It's a privilege that I've been chosen to represent women and women of color in the most popular sport in America," Chaka said via an official NFL Instagram post ahead of the game.
Chaka was just the third on-field female official in the NFL after Thomas and Shannon Eastin, a monumental achievement when considering the NFL is more than 100 years old.
"I am honored to be selected as an NFL official," Chaka said in an official statement earlier this offseason. "But this moment is bigger than a personal accomplishment. It is an accomplishment for all women, my community, and my culture."
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Selected in 2014 as a part of the league's officiating development program, Chaka has earned the right to be exactly where she is today. She's been a health and physical education teacher at Renaissance Academy in Virginia Beach, Virginia, since 2006, per USA Today, forced to adapt based on the rabid impact of the raging COVID-19 pandemic; and was able to successfully do so while also balancing the weight of helping family displaced by a weather emergency.
Despite it all, she continued to excel in the league's program as Troy Vincent, Senior NFL Executive Vice President of Football Operations, pointed out this past spring.
"Maia's years of hard work, dedication and perseverance -- including as part of the NFL Officiating Development Program -- have earned her a position as an NFL official," said Vincent in March. "As we celebrate Women's History Month, Maia is a trailblazer as the first Black female official and inspires us toward normalizing women on the football field."
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