Sep 9, 2012; Detroit, MI, USA; NFL referee Shannon Eastin in the third quarter during the game between the St. Louis Rams and Detroit Lions at Ford Field. Mandatory Credit: Andrew Weber-US Presswire

Eastin: Former replacement ref and professional poker player

Just how happy were Packer fans to see union refs for the game against the Saints this past weekend?  So happy that Jeff Triplette was a welcome sight on the field.  In all seriousness, it was great to see the union refs return last weekend and we can now move past a certain missed call that will not be named.

About the only good thing that came out of the replacement referee saga was that the league saw their first woman referee.  Shannon Eastin became the first woman in NFL history to referee a game.  While it may seem like a small step, it was good to see an opportunity like that be given to Eastin.

Interestingly enough, her chance to call a game almost didn’t happen.  Prior to her first game, NFL officials expressed great concern over her past as a professional poker player.  Several sites like this news website for poker reported that Eastin has played for a couple of years as a pro poker player.  She played in events such as the World Series of Poker and even cashed in a couple of events.

The reason for concern by officials is due to their anti-gambling policy, one which prevents anyone working or playing in the NFL from participating in gambling activities.  Their policy is in place to prevent any potential game tampering by underhanded bookies or others trying to influence NFL games.

We don’t need to go into the impact that a referee can have on the outcome of a football game.  The NFL’s concerns over game tampering are understandable and it was not surprising that they chose to investigate Eastin thoroughly prior to allowing her to officiate her first game.

The League must have been satisfied with Eastin’s answers and their investigation of the situation as she was allowed to officiate her first regular season game on Sept. 9.  Regardless of our feelings regarding the replacement referees, Shannon Eastin did break the NFL’s gender barrier and made history in the process.  In the end, Eastin’s historic feat may be one of the few good things to come out of the use of replacement referees.

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