Shannon Eastin has become the most talked-about replacement official, initially because she’ll be the first female to officiate an NFL game.
She also has participated in the World Series of Poker, which has prompted the NFL Referees Association to plan an assault on her credentials.
The league has issued a statement to PFT explaining that Eastin’s credentials are acceptable. “The NFL does extensive background checks on prospective officials, including the current group of replacement officials,” NFL spokesman Michael Signora said. “All of them have passed the NFL’s rigorous screening process, including Shannon Eastin. Past participation in an event such as a poker tournament does not disqualify a person from consideration as an NFL game official.”
That said, it’s clear that, going forward, participating in a poker tournament is something that the league would regard as a violation of the gambling policy. Signora said that Eastin would not be permitted to participate in a poker tournament during the season. In the offseason (i.e., after the Pro Bowl and before the start of the preseason), she she would have an obligation to inform the NFL within 24 hours of ny entry into a casino. Also, Signora said that Eastin would be prohibited from taking part “in a professional gambling event, such as the World Series of Poker, at any time of the year.”
Unless she plans on participating in a poker tournament during the season, the issue becomes relevant only if the lockout lasts for a full season. Or if Eastin eventually is hired to be a regular official.