(SAN DIEGO) — With her hair tucked under her black cap, Shannon Eastin made history Thursday night as the first woman to referee a National Football League game.
Before taking her place as a line judge for the pre-season game between the San Diego Chargers and Green Bay Packers, she acknowledged at news conference Tuesday afternoon that she was a bit of a pioneer.
“I would say probably most of the way, to some degree, yes. Even in my previous experience in judo, I did a lot of things that were first there,” Eastin said.
Eastin threw five flags Thursday night, according to The Los Angeles Times, including a “significant fourth-quarter call that replays justified, flagging San Diego cornerback Greg Gatson for pass interference because he ran into Green Bay receiver Dale Moss.”
She also intervened to calm a post-play confrontation between Gatson and three Packers, the Times reported.
Eastin’s hat and whistle will be taken to the Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio, to commemorate the milestone.
Eastin got her chance in part because the league’s regular officials are locked out in a labor dispute. It’s unclear whether she will be able to stick in the NFL after a new deal is signed.
Eastin is no rookie to the game. She enters her 17th season as a football official. She spent the past four seasons refereeing college football in the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference, which fields 13 teams competing in the Football Championship Subdivision, formerly known as Division 1-AA.
“For me, this is my dream coming true,” said Eastin, director of officials for the Arizona Charter Athletic Association and owner of SE Sports Officiating. “I’m honored the NFL has chosen to place me in this position. I feel blessed and excited.”
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