Okay, let me get one thing straight. I am a woman. So in no way am I disparaging the fact that a woman officiating an NFL game is wrong or a travesty simply because of her gender. When Shannon Eastin takes the field on Thursday to officiate the San Diego Chargers-Green Bay Packers game, she will be "making history" as the first woman to officiate an official game.
It's not like Eastin doesn't have a lot of football officiating experience. She's worked in the Mid-Eastern Athletic conference and apparently "other leagues" that many sources discuss but never quite get into specifics as to where. Who plays in the Mid-Eastern Athletic conference? Teams like Delaware State, North Carolina A&T, Bethune-Cookman, and Savannah State. Regular powerhouses, right?
Unfortunately, that's not an unusual resume among the replacement referees that the NFL is hiring while it's still attempting to hammer out a long-term deal with its regular officials. These replacements are not referees who are ready for prime-time nor who are even close. They've not been pulled from the fields of SEC or Pac-12 games. Those officials are already committed to their college schedules. The NFL has a "watch list" of college officials that they select new officials from on an annual basis when there are openings. Guess what? Not a single referee on that watch list is available.
Using replacement officials who have never come close to this level of athleticism, size, and speed is a colossal mistake and will be evident to even the most casual fans at any game. Throwing a woman into an NFL game in this manner and then saying she's making history is a joke. She didn't earn this right. She might have one day. However, she's not even the best female referee officiating in football right now.
That female official is named Sarah Thomas and she's the one who should have been selected over Eastin. She IS actually on the NFL watch list, has officiated at the Division I level, and even worked a bowl game. Problem is, she's in a contract that won't let her leave her current conference. Many believe that she was going to become the NFL's first female official. Now she won't.
One day Thomas will be brought up onto an NFL crew and blend in just like everyone else. She will have earned that position and she will be good at it because she's gone through all the proper training and channels to get there. It's not Eastin's fault that everyone is attaching this "breakthrough" to her, but to give her extra attention because of her gender in this situation is just wrong.
Julie is an NFL contributor for the Yahoo Contributor Network. She's been a football fanatic her entire life and a Broncos fan since moving to Denver in 2001.