Shannon Eastin made NFL history on Sunday when she stepped out onto the field as the line judge in the St. Louis Rams-Detroit Lions season opener. Eastin became the first female referee to play in a regular-season game.
Eastin is a replacement referee who has stepped in to help the NFL continue its season after the league’s full-time officials refused to sign a new long-term contract that they believe unfairly supports the NFL’s own goals.
The 42-year-old Shannon Eastin is a Tempe, Arizona resident who normally referees in the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference, college football’s second-highest level of competitive play. Eastin is no rookie to the MEAC, which she has served for the last 15 years.
When asked about Eastin stepping up to make history, league spokesman Greg Aiello told the Associated Press in an email:
“Commenting on individual officials is not something we do. Her place in league history speaks for itself.”
This season marks the first in 11 years in which replacement officials have been used to referee regular season games.
Replacement officials could lose their jobs at any time; should referees agree on a new dea,l they will be immediately reinstated following the signing of that contract.
If you weren’t paying attention, you might not have noticed Shannon Eastin on the field except for during the national anthem in which she took off her black ball cap to reveal her hidden ponytail.
Shannon doesn’t have to worry about fans singling her out for bad plays; it seems like just about every replacement referee has gone under the microscope by angry fans.