First Female NFL Ref, But Hold Your Applause?

This Thursday, Chicks like us should relish the opportunity to hold our heads high. For the first time in NFL history, a woman will referee a preseason game. Her name is Shannon Eastin. And while female fans should be clinking their glasses of Pinot over the fact that this ridiculous glass ceiling has finally been broken, it’s just not that simple.

What you may not have heard is that NFL refs are pulling a page from their player brethren and staging a lockout. The labor fight has been going on since June. Since the regular refs have no intentions of crossing the picket line, the league is letting folks who have only served as referees for high school and even small college games get their shots in the big league. Folks like…Shannon Eastin.

While her opportunity is groundbreaking, it is also steeped in controversy since she’s hardly considered the most qualified of female referees. After all, there is Sarah Thomas, a woman we told you about a couple years back who officiated a college bowl game and a few Saints practices. Thomas refused to cross the picket line, so she won’t get her shot to make history. With that said, it would be unfair to poo-poo on Eastin’s opportunity. She shouldn’t be judged any more harshly than any of the other under-qualified refs who are stepping in because of the strike.

Eastin should be given an opportunity to prove herself. If she rocks it, then who cares how she got there? After all, I can’t imagine she’ll do any worse than the Hall of Fame game refs who could barely manage the coin-toss. The league is getting its fair share of criticism for putting Eastin at the center of its tug of war. Eastin is getting criticized for being a scab, but rising above all the drama. During a conference call with the media, Eastin downplayed the hype, saying:

“I want to encourage women: Don’t be afraid. Pursue and have dreams. This is my dream. With very step I hope to show it really doesn’t matter if you are male or female.”

You can catch Eastin in action Thursday when the Chargers host the Packers. While I could care less who wins the game, you’d better believe I’m “Team Eastin” all the way!

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About Nola Chick

Shaneika, a.k.a. Nola Chick, is a lifelong crazed Saints fan and creator of If she looks familiar, you may have seen her lose a Cadillac on "The Price is Right" with Bob Barker or win Super Bowl tickets on the Ellen Show. (She gets around...)

Twitter Handle: @chicksndahuddle


  1. FriarBob says:

    Umm I believe the NFL has locked out the refs, not the refs going on strike.

    Either way, to the best of my knowledge Sarah Thomas is not an NFLRA member, so she couldn’t “cross the picket lines” even if she wanted to. The problem here appears to be that her current employer won’t ALLOW her to be hired by the NFL as a “scab”. Nor will they allow any of their other employees, who happen to be all (or at least the majority) of the refs who would be most qualified to step up under normal circumstances, since they work the highest levels of college competition.

    Despite that, everybody — regardless of gender — should hope Eastin does a good job. And hopefully there will be more like her to follow in the future.

  2. FriarBob says:

    Hmm on second thought Sam Farmer does appear to imply that Thomas refused to “cross the lines”… but PFT said the opposite. Not sure who is actually right.

  3. If crossing a strike line is the only way to break through the grass ceiling, then good on ya, Shannon Eastin. If Sarah Thomas is more qualified, and IF the NFL would even hire her at all, it would have been done by now. When Shannon Eastin does the typical 150% of a man’s job, and the audience appreciates it, maybe, just maybe Sarah Thomas — and other capable women like her — will get their shot.

  4. She may be a replacement referee but she has the guts to prove us why is she at that position. She may also be called this and that, hear positive and negative comments but she’s there to do her job. If we ever get an amazing opportunity, we always take care of it and do our best, right?

  5. i totally agree that she should have the opportunity to prove herself like anyone else. I really hope she gets to take the field this Sunday.

  6. I just have to say, I am a chick whi LOVES football and I am all about women trying to break the mold, however, I do not want to see women in the NFL. I like watching men be men and thinks it should stay that way.

  7. Lo - Panthers Chick says:

    I’m Team Eastin…. We can’t play football but we should darn sure be able to participate in the sports besides being a cheerleader… Go Girl…

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