Sent a resume to the NFL a few weeks back hoping to get some work as a replacement referee during the preseason.
Pretty sure I know the rules well enough to be a line judge for a few hours down in Seattle or Phoenix and make enough to pay off a speeding ticket and buy my kids some back-to-school clothes.
Haven’t heard back so I’m assuming just because I won a few dollars in the Fulton Fantasy Football League with my buddy Roger Knox, that I violated the league’s gambling policy.
Shannon Eastin, however, did get the call and has become the first woman to officiate an NFL game. This, despite her having played in the World Series of Poker in Vegas.
The 42-year-old from Tempe, Ariz. broke the NFL’s on-field gender barrier Thursday night, serving as the line judge for a seven-man crew working the Green Bay Packers-San Diego Chargers game, somehow won by the Chargers.
Makes me wonder if she blew a few calls to help the Chargers win, but apparently she was solid.
According to the Associated Press, Eastin was dwarfed by the players as she lined up in front of San Diego’s sideline and had a camera following nearly every move before the game.
Wearing No. 27, she seemed at ease in the spotlight, though, and had at least two players shake her hand right before the opening kickoff.
Though she wasn’t involved in many calls until late, Eastin stayed steady among the giants and the national spotlight, earning her stripes by receiving the ultimate officials’ compliment: It was almost as if she wasn’t there.
Makes me wonder why more females aren’t working the lines in pro football. Eastin is a referee in the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference, college football’s second-highest level, and a 16-year veteran of officiating. Eastin got her NFL shot as a replacement official, among a group taking the place of the regular refs, who are locked out.
And now, she’ll have a place in the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Well, at least her cap will; the one she wore Thursday is headed to Canton, Ohio.
Violet Palmer, one of Eastin’s inspirations, began officiating NBA games in 1997 and is still in the league.
Bernice Gera became the first woman to work in baseball’s minor leagues, serving as an umpire in a New York-Penn League game in 1972.
Pam Postema umpired major league spring training games in 1989 and, thanks to a push by commissioner Bart Giamatti, made it up to Triple-A for six seasons. She was fired a few months after Giamatti’s death, filed a sex discrimination suit and settled out of court years later.
In Vernon, Shannon Smart is regarded as one of the top soccer referees, of either gender. She’s 20-something and through her training of teenage officials, we will have more fine lady soccer referees in the future.
Young Shawna Mann does a good job refereeing minor hockey in Vernon, and as long as she can shake off the verbal abuse, will hopefully stay in the game and inspire younger girls.
A female brings a different scope and attitude to sport. There aren’t enough female coaches, probably because they feel intimidated in what is mainly a man’s world.
I hope the exposure Eastin is getting as a replacement ref will help her find work as a regular referee if they ever solve this dispute.
Less than three weeks before the season kicks off, the NFL and the NFL Referees Association are no closer to an agreement to end the lockout of the officials.
The NFL is offering to add three full officiating crews, increasing the total number of officials to 140. League spokesman Greg Aiello said “this would reduce stress on the officials by allowing each official to work fewer games, would reduce travel, would allow us to do more intensive training, integrate younger officials more effectively, increase diversity, and improve quality of officiating.”
All NFL game officials are part-time employees, with outside jobs ranging from lawyer to teacher to business owner.
You may recall the bitter pay dispute between the NFL and the referee’s union back in 2001 when the zebras went on strike.
The NFL hired 112 temporary officials, some of whom had worked the most competitive American college football conferences. According to Yahoo, they were paid $8,000 for a guaranteed four weeks. Up to that time, the then-striking officials were earning from $24,825 to $69,990 per season, depending on experience.
Yahoo says NFL referees currently earn between $42,295 and $120,998 per season. That might not sound like much, but remember, the NFL season is only 16 games.
How do those figures compare with the salaries of refs in other sports?
According to AskMen.com, Major League baseball umpires earn anywhere from $100,000 to $280,000 per season, plus they get a generous expense account. NHL officials make even more – from $115,000 to $220,000 per season, based on experience. Probably because they have to know how to skate backwards and stay out of the way of swinging hockey sticks.
Anyways, with or without regular officials, the NFL regular season opens Wednesday, Sept. 5 with the Cowboys battling the Giants.
Football LOCKS.com has the defending champion Giants at 20-1 odds to repeat. They list the Packers at 11-2, Patriots at 5-1, Niners at 7-1 and Eagles at 8-1. Peyton Manning and the Broncos come in at 18-1. Super Bowl 47 is in New Orleans.
Of course, these guys are amateurs compared to Knox, Jenn Thatcher, defending champion Mike Daly, Bob Shannon, Shawn Scott, Ryan Nitchie and myself. Look for Morning Star picks each Friday starting Sept. 7.