When Charles Woodson speaks, people listen.
Such was the case when he recently commented about Shannon Eastin, the first woman official set to work an NFL game Thursday when the Packers open the preseason in San Diego.
Here’s what he had to say:
Charles Woodson is more Renaissance man than Neanderthal, so his reaction to the idea of a woman serving on the officiating crew for Thursday night’s preseason opener at San Diego was hardly surprising.
“What do I think about it? It’s probably about time,” the Green Bay Packers veteran cornerback-turned-safety said Tuesday when asked about having Shannon Eastin on the crew of NFL replacement officials for the Packers’ preseason game. “I’m sure women have probably tried (to become NFL officials) at some point along the way leading up to this point, so I would assume it’s somebody qualified out there that we won’t have to jump over for making bad calls.
“We look forward to it. That’s just the way things are and the way I think it should be. So hats off to her and whoever decided to make it happen.”
Of course, Eastin is among the replacement officials the league has hired while their full-time officials are locked out. Talks broke down between the sides in June and no progress has been reported since. While the replacement officials who worked the preseason-opening Pro Football Hall of Fame game didn’t seem to stick out, CBSSports.com’s Mike Freeman reported on Tuesday that players from the New Orleans Saints and Arizona Cardinals were making fun of the officials and how bad they were during the game.
In a conference call with reporters Tuesday, Eastin said she is not intimidated by her assignment.
“I want to encourage women: Don’t be afraid,” Eastin said. “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.
“I believe I am ready. I’m a realistic person and I know what is realistic for me. I am not going to play football. I feel it is realistic for me to officiate. I make myself ready for any opportunity that comes my way. I will come in with my eyes wide open.”
Eastin will be the line judge on Thursday night, according to the NFL. Woodson has never been afraid to make his opinion on officiating known — dating back to the infamouse Tuck Rule game — and that won’t change now, regardless of gender.
“It may take some people by surprise, but I think once the game starts flowing, the only way you’re going to notice her is if she makes a bad call,” said Woodson, who is not expected to play Thursday night. “She’s got to get it like everybody else. I don’t think we’ll really worry about it too much once the game begins.”