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Ex-Raiders executive says Sarah Thomas 'should be booed' if she makes mistakes

NFL game officials have a mostly thankless job, and one former team executive is hoping that Sarah Thomas, the league's first full-time female official, won't be immune to criticism.

In an article published on MMQB.com, former Oakland Raiders CEO Amy Trask wrote that fans should treat Thomas the same way they would any referee -- especially if she botches a call. 

"When Sarah Thomas throws a flag she shouldn't have thrown -- which she will, as all officials do -- she should be booed," Trask wrote. "When Sarah Thomas fails to throw a flag she should have thrown -- which she will, as all officials do -- she should be booed. Sarah Thomas should be booed as loudly and as resoundingly as her male colleagues are booed.

"Gender equality means gender equality. And if gender equality is the expectation, all consequences that flow therefrom must be accepted, whether one likes them or not."

Thomas was hired in April. She had worked as a college football referee for eight years in Conference USA and became the first woman to officiate a major college football game when she worked a contest between Memphis and Jacksonville State in 2007.

Trask, who served as Raiders chief executive from 1997 to 2013, said she experienced little gender-based criticism from her colleagues and players during her tenure. Still, she said she understands that Thomas will have a very public role in games that will make her a target for criticism.

Although she believes Thomas will face challenges in her new role, Trask said Thomas has an opportunity to serve as an inspiration to other women.

"While there will be some people who will not like that a woman is officiating in the NFL, and while there will be some who shout gender-related comments towards the field, there may also be little girls and young women who take note of what Sarah Thomas has achieved and conclude that they too can achieve their dreams," Trask wrote.

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