The NFL's first female official is excited, a bit nervous and not at all intimidated by the challenge of working a pro game.
Shannon Eastin makes her NFL debut on Thursday night as the line judge when the Green Bay Packers play at San Diego in the preseason opener for both teams. A 42-year-old referee in the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference -- college football's second-highest level -- Eastin has 16 years of officiating experience.
She is among the replacement officials hired by the league while the regular officials are locked out.
Eastin understands she is a pioneer, and is unafraid of delivering a message to women who want to follow her path. She says with "every step I hope to show it really doesn't matter if you are male or female."
BARRY WILNER, AP Pro Football Writer