Saturday August 11, 2012 : PAST POKER HISTORY NOT A DISQUALIFYING ISSUE SAYS NFL
 
Replacement US football referee survives spoiler tactics
 
This week's storm in a teacup involved the US National Football League and its first female referee, Shannon Eastin (42), along with a group of disgruntled referees with contractual issues.
 
Eastin was just one of a number of replacement refs drafted in to enable the football games to continue despite the contract dispute, and it was perhaps inevitable that she would become the target of side-lined and aggrieved officials.
 
ESPN sources claimed that the excluded refs locked on to the fact that Eastin had in the past played that quintessential American game poker at the World Series of Poker in 2006 and 2007, scoring small tournament wins. Not under US law any sort of offence, but seized upon as a stick with which to beat the NFL due to its oft-stated opposition to gambling.
 
Presumably catching wind of the possible disclosure, the NFL took the initiative and issued a statement of its own, noting:
 
“The NFL does extensive background checks on prospective officials, including the current group of replacement officials. All of them have passed the NFL’s rigorous screening process, including Shannon Eastin. Past participation in an event such as a poker tournament does not disqualify a person from consideration as an NFL game official.”
 
So there.