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Jaguars’ Marks questions NFL’s motives in hiring female official

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Defensive tackle Sen’Derrick Marks of the Jacksonville Jaguars said the hiring of the NFL’s first female official is a publicity stunt.

The NFL has hired Sarah Thomas in a ground-breaking move, the Baltimore Sun reported Friday.

According to the celebrity website TMZ, Marks compared the hiring of a female official to the drafting of Michael Sam a year ago, when he became the first openly gay player to be drafted.

“For women, it’s great,” Marks told TMZ. “Ain’t nothing wrong with it, especially as long as she knows what she’s doing.

“It’s just like the Michael Sam situation — if he wasn’t gay, he would have gone undrafted. Instead, the league drafts him because I think they are trying to monopolize every aspect of the world … the same thing with a female ref.

“For the league, it’s great publicity. The NFL is all about monopolizing every opportunity. I hope it works for her.”

An NFL spokesman on Friday would not confirm Thomas’ hiring, stating the roster of officials is not yet complete, but the Los Angeles Times reported Thomas would be among eight new officials for the 2015 season.

“The 2015 roster of officials has not yet been finalized,” the league office said Friday in response to the report. “When it is, the new officials for 2015 and the entire roster will be announced.”

That announcement is expected next week, according to Pro Football Talk.

Thomas, who became the first female to officiate an NCAA football game in 2007, has previously been a finalist for the NFL job. She has been working in the NFL’s Officiating Development Program.

Thomas has worked some at New Orleans Saints’ training camps and officiated NFL preseason games as a line judge while in the league’s training program.

Thomas technically wouldn’t be the first female to officiate an NFL game. In 2012, Shannon Eastin was hired by the NFL as a non-union official during the 2012 lockout by referees and was the first woman to officiate a regular-season game.

After completing his college career, Sam publicly announced that he is gay. He subsequently became the first openly gay player to be drafted by an NFL team, as the St. Louis Rams selected him in the seventh round last year.

Sam recorded three sacks for the Rams in the 2014 preseason but failed to make the team’s season-opening roster. He later spent time on the Cowboys’ practice squad before he was released by Dallas in October.

The 6-foot-2, 261-pound Sam recently participated in the NFL’s veteran free agent combine, but has not been offered another NFL job. He has an offer to play in Canada..

Marks, 27, has spent two years with the Jaguars and is currently recovering from a torn ACL he suffered in the final game last season. He led the Jaguars with 8.5 sacks, 15 tackles for loss and 16 quarterback hurries.

Marks played his first four NFL seasons with the Tennessee Titans (2009-2012) before joining Jacksonville in 2013.


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