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NFL's first female referee: Shannon Eastin's debut game

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The 42-year-old resident of Tempe, Ariz. has worked as a referee in the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference — college football's second-highest level — and has 16 years of officiating experience. MEAC officials declined comment on Eastin, as did the NFL in the days leading up to the groundbreaking assignment.

"Commenting on individual officials is not something we do," league spokesman Greg Aiello wrote in an email. "Her place in league history speaks for itself."

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell has said having Eastin on the field is a great opportunity for her and the league.

"She's well prepared for it, and I think she'll do terrific," Goodell said last month. "So we're excited about that.

"And there are more coming, by the way. We've been working along this path to try to properly train and prepare a female official, and now we have the opportunity."

The NFL declined to make Eastin available for interviews during the week leading up to the game and didn't allow media to have access to her following the Rams-Lions game, but did set up a conference call with her in August.

"I hope to show it really doesn't matter if you are male or female," Eastin said last month.

Eastin walked onto the Ford Field turf about 50 minutes before kickoff Sunday, chatted briefly with a police officer and shook hands with Lions linebackers coach Matt Burke. She then went largely unnoticed as she paced the home team's sideline during pregame warm-ups.

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