Author: Daniel Smith
Now that the saga of replacement referees is behind us, we can now look back at one perhaps the one good thing that did come out of using replacement refs. For the first time in NFL history, a female referee officiated over games. Shannon Easton broke the NFL’s gender barrier when she was allowed to call games during the 2012 season. However, another NFL policy nearly barred her from working games.
During preseason, NFL officials learned that Easton had a history in the world of gambling. In the past she played professional poker and had even participated in the World Series of Poker and even placed 17th in one event back in 2007.
The NFL currently has an anti-gambling policy in place that forbids players, league office officials, and even referees from participating in any form of gambling. Some may believe that poker is not a form of gambling, but it still qualifies as such under NFL policy.
The primary purpose of this policy is to prevent potential game fixing or having their players targeted by those who would try and get players to fix games. We all saw what happened when the Green Bay game was decided by a bad call. What impact would a game fixing scandal have on the league? Every missed call by a referee, every missed tackle by a player, or every bad throw by a QB would then be questioned as whether it was done to fix a game.
Speaking of poker, the league has turned a blind eye to many “charity” poker tournaments that NFL players have participated in over the last couple of years. Considering that these games only award non-cash prizes and the money collected goes to worthy causes, these games do not have the potential to cause the league harm. However, one event was nixed by the league when it was discovered it was to be held at a casino.
In the end, the league was clearly satisfied with what they found in their investigation as Easton was allowed to break the NFL’s gender barrier and make history. It would have been a shame for the league’s anti-gambling policy to prevent a moment of history such as that.
With that said, the policy is still a necessary evil. Gambling addiction is a very real threat, and some players could easily fall victim if not for this policy. In addition, this policy ensures that NFL games stay legit and free of game fixing scandals in the future.