- (Photo: Reuters/Mike Stone)
Shannon Eastin has made NFL history after becoming the league's first female referee on Sunday.
In the match between the St. Louis Rams and Detroit Lions, Eastin served as the first woman to officiate in a regular-season game.
Eastin is among the replacement officials hired by the NFL while the regular officials are locked out. Her debut marked the first time replacement officials have worked a game in 11 years.
In a career that spans 16 years if officiating experience, Eastin, 42, has worked as a referee in the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference- college football's second-highest level- but MEAC officials did not comment on the days leading up to her trail-blazing assignment.
"Commenting on individual officials is not something we do," explained league spokesman Greg Aiello in an email, according to Reno News. "Her place in league history speaks for itself."
Before her regular-season debut, Eastin first set the record as the first female to work an NFL preseason game just last month as the line judge when Green Bay played at San Diego. The hat and whistle she used during the match will be on display in Canton, Ohio.
At the time, Eastin noted her pride in the groundbreaking event.
"Knowing that I'm a female in a man's world, I always place the most pressure on myself, understanding that everything I do will be magnified," she said in a conference call, according to SB Nation. "I know what I signed up for."
Football is not the only sport Eastin has taken interest in over the years; she was a world-class athlete in Judo when she was younger. The native of Tempe, Arizona also remarked that while she could not play for the NFL, she could officiate during games.
"For me this is my dream coming true," she said. "I'm honored the NFL has chosen to place me in this position, I feel blessed, I'm excited. I'm nervous in anticipation just like when I used to compete in Judo. This is very exciting for me."