Shannon Eastin First Female NFL Ref

Shannon Eastin has become the first woman to officiate an NFL game, thanks to the lockout of the regular referees.

Shannon Eastin has become the first woman to officiate an NFL game, thanks to the lockout of the regular referees.

USA Today (“Shannon Eastin makes history“):

Shannon Eastin made history Sunday as the first female to officiate an NFL regular-season game. The Lions host the Rams at Ford Field, and Eastin has been assigned to work the game.

Eastin became the first female official to work an NFL exhibition game last month. She was a line judge when the Packers visited the Chargers in early August.

Eastin, 42, is entering her 17th season as football official, most recently working for the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference.

“For me, this is my dream coming true,” Eastin told USA Today before working the exhibition game in San Diego. “I’m honored that the NFL has chosen to place me in this position. I feel blessed and excited.”

Eastin’s opportunity to work in the NFL was created by the ongoing lockout of the regular NFL officials, who haven’t been able to agree on a new collective bargaining agreement.

Eastin won’t be the first female to work a football game at Ford Field. Gillie David of Waterford became the first female to work a high school state final football game in 2009 at Ford Field.

According to MHSAA spokesman John Johnson, there were 2,707 registered football officials last season. Seven were female.

Note that, for this to happen,  it took more than a lockout of all of the regular NFL refs but also the refusal of all the big time college referees to serve as replacement officials. The current replacement crop are at best third-tier officials, coming from Division II, Division III, NAIA and other tertiary levels of college ball.

Yet, after some embarrassing gaffes during the pre-season, they’re doing pretty well.

FILED UNDER: Gender Issues, Sports, ,
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm veteran. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. Tsar Nicholas says:

    Yeah, but will liberals refer to her as a “scab,” for crossing a union picket line, or as a “trailblazer,” for being the first female NFL ref? Or does that depend upon whether she supports publicly-subsidized contraceptives coverage?

    That aside, you have to give the NFL a lot of credit. The league simply doesn’t take shit from its unions. Refs want to play hardball on their CBA? OK, we’ll get replacement refs. Div. I college refs want to play all Norma Rae and stuff? OK, knock yourselves out, dopes, we’ll get Div. II or even Div. III refs. So on, so forth. That’s the sort of ruthlessness that tears unions apart at the seams and gets CBA deals done on favorable terms for everyone. The business community at large can learn a lot from the NFL.

  2. michael reynolds says:

    I’d call her a scab.

    But I’m really more interested in you, Tsar. I’m curious. When you lick the rich man’s shoes — I mean, really just get down on all fours like that, and stick your tongue out for a good spit-shine — what is it you expect? A pat on the head? Maybe they’ll let you caddy next week? What’s the pay-off for all that groveling?