Maia Chaka made history on Sunday during the Week 1 matchup between the Carolina Panthers and the New York Jets by becoming the first Black woman to officiate a regular-season NFL game.
“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 in a statement ahead of the history-making game.
Chaka’s addition to the roster of officials for the 2021 season was announced back in March.
“I am honored to be selected as an NFL official,” she said in a statement at the time. “But this moment is bigger than a personal accomplishment. It is an accomplishment for all women, my community, and my culture.”
According to NFL.com, Chaka worked in the Pac-12 Conference and Conference USA in college football before heading over the major league. She also worked as a physical education and health teacher in Virginia.
Earlier this year, she spoke to The Undefeated about the day she received the call, offering her a position with the NFL.
“It’s so funny, my kids were so excited that I was like on The Shade Room, Baller Alert,” recalled Chaka. “Like, to them, that is bigger than CNN and the Today show.”
“Their idea of celebrity status is going viral. I had to show them that it doesn’t really make any difference, I’m still the same person. It doesn’t change me. It doesn’t change the way that I work.”
The NFL released a statement at the time, leaving no doubt as to why Chaka was the woman for the job.
“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,” NFL executive vice president of football operations Troy Vincent said.
“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.”