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Pereira says Eastin “never would have been hired” under normal procedures

Mike Pereira, FOX NFL Sunday

This photo released by FOX on Sunday, Sept. 12, 2010, shows FOX NFL rules analyst Mike Pereira in the Los Angeles command center. Pereira, former National Football League officiating chief, retired last season. He will be making calls for Fox during its football coverage. (AP Photo/FOX, Ray Mickshaw) NO SALES.


Former NFL V.P. of officiating Mike Pereira has become an important voice in the ongoing referee lockout. Pereira, who has been a game official and who later supervised all officials, had a key role in the league’s last lockout of game officials, 11 years ago.

In the current lockout, which features competing allegations and assertions between the league office and the NFL Referees Association, Pereira brings the knowledge and experience that naturally flows from the various hats he wore.

And so, as it relates to the question of whether a game official’s past participation in the World Series of Poker should preclude the game official from NFL employment, Pereira knows a thing or two about the procedures.

The league contends that replacement official Shannon Eastin’s participation in the 2007 WSOP doesn’t disqualify her, even though the league says Eastin can’t participate in the WSOP while working for the NFL, either during the season or after the season. Pereira, who now serves as the rules analyst for the NFL on FOX, tells PFT that the normal screening procedures would have resulted in Eastin being rejected.

“Gambling is a no-no, period, when it reaches this level,” Pereira said. “This is not a friendly golf wager or a group of guys playing poker at home. If, in the normal background check process, this level of gambling was uncovered, the person would never have been hired.”

The question of whether participating in a poker tournament should be prohibited for current officials or whether past participation should disqualify an official from being hired provide fodder for a compelling debate. Participating in a poker tournament, some would contend, isn’t gambling. And even if it is, if the person isn’t doing it now, it shouldn’t matter. Still, the point is that the NFL, if Pereira’s contention is accurate, apparently has relaxed its screening procedures and/or its standards in order to field a full complement of replacement officials.

Some may be troubled by that. Some may not be. If, however, the league has been required to deviate from its normal processes, there surely will be some sweaty palms and nervous stomachs at 345 Park Avenue when the regular season begins with a collection of game officials who may or may not have survived the more rigorous requirements that the locked-out officials previously have satisfied.