First NFL Female Ref Makes History

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MEDFORD, Ore. —  Among a field of National Football League players, one woman is taking the spotlight.  Shannon Eastin is the first woman to line judge an NFL game Thursday night.  She was a side judge for the pre-season game between the Green Bay Packers and San Diego Chargers.

“I think its great for the league, and great for respected female officials,” says former NFL player and Ashland star Chad Cota.

Officiating a football game isn’t unfamiliar territory for Eastin. The 42 year-old started refereeing high school games. She moved up to the collegiate level and then put some time in with the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference. Eastin is showing she can do it at any level.

“So now, maybe possible for high schools, colleges, might get more proactive in doing this,” says Cota.

Many women referees are already seen on basketball courts, but Cota says he believes football is just now catching up.

“You think that the NFL is a progressive league but they’ve been kind of behind on this,” says Cota.

He predicts Eastin is setting the precedent for many more women referees.

“I guess we will review and see how she does. I would think that they’ll probably keep this going and continue to do it. Yeah, I believe so,” says Cota.

Eastin is a replacement official.  She is among a group of other referees taking the place of other judges who are locked out due to a contract dispute. Eastin will also be remembered in the Pro Football Hall of Fame. The cap and whistle she wore at the pre-season game is headed to Canton as pieces of memorabilia.