NFL fans probably never thought they would be as happy to see referees as they were this past weekend when the regular refs returned to the field. Their return closed the book on an unfortunate chapter in NFL history, and one that we hopefully will not have to deal with again.
An interesting side story related to the replacement refs was reported on during the preseason when NFL officials exhibited concerns over the past of Shannon Easton. Easton became the first woman to officiate a league game in history this year, but that almost did not happen due to concerns over her past as a poker player.
Easton has played in poker tournaments in the past, including the World Series of Poker. Her participation in this tournament and other poker events was of great concern due to their anti-gambling policy. At present, the league bans their players and officials from participating in gambling activities that could potentially put the games at jeopardy.
An NFL official would be a prime target for unscrupulous bookies as a blown call by a referee can have a great impact on a game. Green Bay would agree with this. As such, the NFL institutes such a strict policy.
The only area where they tend to allow an exemption are charity poker tournaments that are not held in casino venues. These events do not pay cash to players and without the influence of cash, there is little chance of players getting in over their heads. Several players currently participate in charity poker games, including Charlie Batch of the Steelers.
While some may find the NFL’s anti-gambling policy too restrictive or invasive, it is there to help keep the purity of the games intact. We saw the problems caused by the controversy surrounding the replacement referees. Just imaging the firestorm the league would have to endure if they had a game fixing scandal. Policies such as their anti-gambling policy help to prevent this type of controversy and allow us to enjoy the games as they should be.