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Shannon Eastin, First Female NFL Referee, Set To Make Debut Thursday

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NFL referees huddle for an on-field discussion during a 2011 season game. (AP/FILE PHOTO)
NFL referees huddle for an on-field discussion during a 2011 season game. (AP/FILE PHOTO)

The 2012 season hasn't even started, but the NFL is already on track to create history.

Shannon Eastin in now set to become the first woman to officiate an NFL game, the league confirmed on Monday, according to USA Today.

When the Green Bay Packers and San Diego Chargers take the field in Southern California Thursday night for the pre-season match-up, Eastin will be on the field. The game starts at 8 p.m. ET on Aug. 9 and will be broadcast on ESPN.

Eastin is a veteran of the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference, and she's finally getting a chance to ref at the professional level as a result of the labor dispute, according the the Washington Post. Replacement referees already oversaw the Hall of Fame game, which opened the NFL pre-season, on Sunday, but Eastin was not among them.

Prior to today it was unclear whether or not Eastin would see any time at the NFL level. According to NFL.com, a number of currently locked-out referees refused to train Eastin among others. It remains uncertain whether the refusal had to do with the labor dispute or Eastin's gender, but many are speculating.

From NFL.com:

Eastin was one of the replacement officials in Dallas on Friday to take part in the first training clinic. We learned from Farmer's report that officiating trainers -- a group of nine of the game's most respected former officials -- were asked to turn in their company-issued laptops after refusing to train Eastin and others.

"They wanted us to train the replacements, which we would absolutely not do," said Jerry Markbreit, one of the officiating trainers. "We were all officials for 20-plus years. ... How could we face our people? ... It's very discouraging for (the league) to have put us in this kind of situation."

Regardless of any contention or hard feelings, it seems Eastin will take the field on Thursday. Whether she sees time at the professional level during the regular season depends on a number of factors, least of which is the labor dispute that gave her this barrier-breaking opportunity.

Around the Web

First female NFL official debuts Thursday in San Diego - NFL.com

Woman set to officiate NFL game for first time - ESPN

NFL to have it's first female referee - Patriots Life

NFL: Shannon Eastin Could Referee Some Games in 2012 ...

Former officials are at odds with the NFL, too - Los Angeles Times

Chargers: Players embrace NFL's first woman official Shannon Eastin

First Female Referee Working Packers-Chargers Game

NFL: Shannon Eastin Could Referee Some Games in 2012

 
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