In her 17th season, one woman made news Thursday night, while not playing a sport. Shannon Eastin made live betting history Thursday night as the first woman to referee a National Football League game.
As part of the line judging at the San Diego Chargers and Green Bay Packers pre season game, Eastin threw five flags.
At a conference before the game Eastin acknowledged the unique opportunity she was about to be part of.
Normally a referee in the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference of NCAA Division I’s Football Championship Subdivision and a 16-year veteran of officiating, Eastin got her chance to be a replacement due to the fact that the league’s regular officials are currently locked out in a labor dispute.
“I thought she did a good job of communicating,” Packers coach Mike McCarthy said. “I was focused on the Packers, but there was communication before the game.”
Although Eastin wasn’t involved in many calls, the 5 foot 5 Eastin appeared confident among the staff of 7, and the football giants, and at one point intervened during a post play conflict.
Before the game, the NFL Referees Association learned that Eastin had once participate in the 2007 World Series of Poker, and thought that she didn’t deserve the per head chance.
The league wasn’t pleased with this past in-play gambling, but accepted Eastin for Thursday night’s game since she it had occurred 5 years previously.
“The NFL does extensive background checks on prospective officials, including the current group of replacement officials,” NFL spokesman Michael Signora said. “All of them have passed the NFL’s rigorous screening process, including Shannon Eastin. Past participation in an event such as a poker tournament does not disqualify a person from consideration as an NFL game official.”
Refereeing Officials are prohibited during the season (from the preseason through the Pro Bowl) to “enter a horse or dog race track or a gambling casino, or bet on any game, or any other sporting event.” Officials also are required to tell the league within 24 hours any entry into a horse or dog race track or casino during the offseason. Throughout the year, officials may not associate with known live betting gamblers.
So even though the WSOP is a skilled contest, since it occurs in a casino, Easting would not be allowed to enter if she was kept on buy the league.