SAN DIEGO (CNS) - The first woman to referee a National Football League game will take the field Thursday when the Chargers host the Green Bay Packers in a preseason exhibition game.
Shannon Eastin, 42, is one of the replacements for regular game officials, who have been locked out since June because of a labor dispute with the NFL. The league has hired college and high school referees to take their place.
Eastin is a referee for the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference and has 16 years of experience. She is the first woman crew chief in the MEAC, part of the NCAA's Football Championship Subdivision, formerly known as Division 1-AA.
Chargers head coach Norv Turner said at his news conference on Monday that Eastin's appearance would be "historic.
Center Nick Hardwick called it "a massive step in the right direction."
"This is what this country has been about for a long time, and this is certainly a step in the right direction," Hardwick said. "As a player it doesn't matter at all if the official is male or female. As long as they make the right calls, that's all that matters."
Pam Postema was an umpire for Major League Baseball exhibition games in 1989, and worked minor league games for several years.
Violet Palmer and Dee Kantner began working National Basketball Association regular season games in 1997. Palmer is still an NBA referee, but Kantner was let go after five years.