Shannon Eastin made NFL history today when she officiated the St. Louis Rams-Detroit Lions regular-season game.
The 42-year-old Tempe, Arizona resident became the first woman to referee in the NFL when she worked as line judge in the Green Bay-San Diego preseason game last month.
The league – which locked out regular officials in a labor dispute – gave her a vote of confidence by scheduling her to work games that count.
While the NFL didn’t allow media to interview Eastin before the game, she did hold a conference call earlier this summer.
“Knowing that I’m a female in a man’s world, I have always put the most pressure on myself,” she said, the Los Angeles Times reported. “I understand that pretty much everything I do is going to be magnified. I know what I signed up for.”
Eastin, a judo champion, started officiating football in high school before moving into the college ranks.
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Eastin has 16 years of experience as a football referee.
She now owns a business that trains football and basketball referees.
Players say that while they worry about Eastin’s safety, they welcome the female perspective.
“Women are more honest and fair than men and they know how to catch a man cheating," Pittsburgh Steelers linebacker Larry Foote told The Associated Press. “I hope she’s just a line judge. Don't want her to get hurt.”
“It’s a sign of the times,” Lions center Dominic Raiola added.
The NFL said it doesn’t comment on specific referees; however, “she's well-prepared for it, and I think she'll do terrific,” commissioner Roger Goddell said earlier this season.
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