As much as we all love to hate these guys the refs are an imperative part of the game. Hiding behind the media circus that has surrounded the New Orleans Saints and Bounty-Gate all summer has been a more serious issue--the refs are on strike/ have been locked out.
Since they can't play without them, the league has done what it has to in order to make sure the game stays relatively safe--they've hired scabs, a collection of retired refs and low level college refs. We know these guys are going to be imperfect, like they showed in the Hall of Fame game, but the lockout/strike has opened a door that has never been even cracked.
A woman is going to be a part of an NFL officiating crew. Thursday night when the Green Bay Packers and San Diego Chargers take the field for their first preseason game Shannon Eastin will be the line judge for the game.
There is bound to be some talk about a woman making calls in a man's game, but Eastin is not a newcomer to the role. She has worked as an official in the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference (FCS level games) and has 16 years of experience under her belt. Players have been largely in favor of the move with most of them noting that the NBA has had women call games, and that there is no reason why a woman can't call an NFL game.
If they’re doing it in the NBA, why not the NFL?” fullback Le’Ron McClain said. “I think woman referees in the NBA are doing a great job, so I think it’s a great idea, giving her the opportunity to be out there, calling football.
When the game starts on Thursday it will be a first (and hopefully not the last). It has (or at least should) overshadow the other first taking place this season. The season will open on a Wednesday for the first time in league history (thanks to the Democratic National Convention featuring a speech from President Obama that Thursday night).
Here are some other notable first in the history of the game:
- First time a TD was worth 6 points: 1912; a touchdown was worth 4 from 1892-98 and 5 from 1898-1911.
- First Use of Penalty Flag: Sept 17, 1948; Green Bay Packers vs. Boston Yanks.
- First Super Bowl Commercial: Noxzema in 1974 featuring former Jets QB Joe Namath.
- First Player to Rush for 1000+ yards: Beattie Feathers, 1934 Chicago Bears with 1004 yards.
- First Cheerleaders: Indianapolis Colts