NFL making wrong call on this one

NFL: Shannon Eastin, Sarah Thomas first female referee controversy underscores problem with replacement officials.

It was big news Monday that Shannon Eastin will become the first female official to work an NFL game on Thursday night in San Diego. This is a huge milestone. History will be made.

Well, there better be a big asterisk by her name, because Eastin does not deserve this honor. Something this big should go to a woman who earned the right — and that is not Eastin.

I feel very badly for Sarah Thomas, an official in Conference USA who deserves to carry the torch. She has gone through the lengthy, requisite training process required of future NFL officials and has been working NCAA Division I college football since 2007.

Eastin, as news reports have stated, has been working in the Football Championship Subdivision since 2008.

Thomas has worked five seasons of Division I football (now called Football Bowl Subdivision). Eastin has worked none.

Thomas has worked two bowl games, the 2009 Little Caesars Pizza Bowl and the 2011 Pinstripe Bowl, putting her in elite company among NCAA officials. She also worked the 2010 United Football League Championship game.

Eastin, who will take the field at Qualcomm Stadium when the San Diego Chargers play host to the Green Bay Packers, has worked no bowl games.

Thomas, because of her experience, track record and great potential, has been selected by the NFL as a finalist to become an NFL official. That means, by default, she is among the NFL officials currently locked out by the league due to the ongoing dispute over a new collective bargaining agreement between the two sides.

And sadly, that also means that Thomas, who has gone through the NFL’s interview process and all the background checks necessary to be on track to become a league official, will not get her opportunity to make history.

Instead, Eastin, who is not an NFL finalist and likely won't be, steps in front of Thomas to seize this tremendous opportunity.

It is an absolute shame that Eastin will be identified as the first female official to work an NFL game. If I were her, I would step aside and leave this huge milestone to Thomas, who truly deserves to be the trailblazer.

This is just part of this madness we call "replacement officials." They are now taking the field in the NFL preseason, as the labor impasse between the league and its trained officials continues with no end in sight.

Last Sunday’s Pro Football Hall of Fame game between the Saints and the Cardinals was refereed by a guy named Craig Ochoa. He was touted as a BCS official. Well, that is not the case.

He never officiated in the Big 10 and, as a matter of fact, was released from the Lingerie Football League midway through last season.

Can we please get this thing settled?

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