This week, the NFL announced that the Aug. 9 game between the Green Bay Packers and the San Diego Chargers will mark an important milestone: if all goes as planned, it will be the first game with a female official.
Shannon Eastin, an Arizona native, has refereed the sport for almost two decades, and making it to the NFL was her long-held dream.
“It may sound crazy to some people, but I think I can be in the NFL someday,” she told the Arizona Republic in 1999.
Because of an ongoing labour dispute that’s seen NFL referees locked out and temporary replacements filling in, Eastin is finally getting her chance. Her accomplishment is no small feat, although it may seem surprising to some that getting a woman to officiate in the NFL has taken this long.
”I believe I am ready,” she said this week. ”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.”