First NFL female official not intimidated

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Beginning Thursday, the replacements will officiate 16 more games. It is the first time in 11 years that replacements have worked games; that standoff lasted one week into the regular season.

Eastin isn’t looking ahead as far as September. She recognizes she is auditioning every time she blows the whistle.

“There’s been a lot of talk that the NFL is wanting to bring in a female and, quite frankly, this could be the opportunity,” she said. “I felt it is something I needed to do, make that step and see what comes from there.”

She said she took regular officials’ situation into consideration as well as the scrutiny she would receive.

“The pressure?” she said. “I think knowing I am a female in a man’s world, I always put more pressure on myself. I know what I signed up for, and that what I do is magnified.”

Her biggest challenges will be handling the different rules in the pros and positioning, Eastin said. She has visited some team training camps to prepare and didn’t see a huge difference in the speed of the game.

“But they have not been at top speed,” she said. “I believe it is important when you step on the field to have a presences and a professionalism to know what you are doing.”

Originally from Worcester, Mass., Eastin took up judo as a child and competed at the senior level when she was 11 years old. She retired from the sport as a teenager.

Although “football has always been in my blood,” Eastin originally set out to be a basketball coach, and then an official, after she quit judo at age 15.

She asked about working football games while awaiting the start of the basketball season and found her comfort zone.

She worked high school games before moving up to the colleges and eventually to the MEAC, where she is the first woman to be a crew chief. Eastin also trains officials in football and basketball at SE Sports Officiating, a company she owns.

“There are probably not as many women (students) as I’d like,” said Eastin, who now lives in Tempe, Ariz.

Eastin mentioned former NFL referees Red Cashion and Jerry Markbreit as significant boosters for her career. And she cited NBA referee Violet Palmer as one of her inspirations.

Palmer began officiating NBA games in 1997 and still is doing it.

Bernice Gera became the first woman to umpire in baseball’s minor leagues when she worked a New York-Penn League game in 1972. Pam Postema (1989) umpired major league spring training games. Championed by commissioner A. Bartlett Giamatti, Postema made it up to Triple-A for six seasons. She was fired a few months after Giamatti’s death, filed a sex discrimination suit against baseball and settled out of court 5 1/2 years later.

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