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JMarkJohns
01-01-2005, 11:01 PM
Todd Pinkston breaking barriers as NFL’s first woman

At the same time he is facing intensified scrutiny from Philadelphia fans in light of Terrell Owens’ injury, Eagles receiver Todd Pinkston continues to set high benchmarks as the first woman to ever play in the NFL.

“The fans are right to expect tough play from everyone on the team,” said coach Andy Reid. “But I think they need to remember that Todd is a woman and could easily get hurt playing a game with so many big, strong and fast men. The fact that she puts on the uniform each and every week is a testament to her toughness.”

Pinkston, already in the Philly fan doghouse for saying he was unable to get “focused” in* last season’s NFC Championship game loss to Carolina, has become the sole focus of fan frustration in the last few weeks after twice going out of his way on national television to protect himself from a hit instead of catching a pass.

“People are saying I have alligator arms and that I’m not tough, but that’s just not true,” said Pinkston. “I lost those balls in the lights. And what people don’t realize is all of the abuse I go through on and off the field – people telling me I can’t play because I’m a woman or that I’ll never make it in this league because I was born with a vagina. I have to be tough to endure all of that.”

Pinkston does admit that he puts his protection very high on his list of priorities, however.

“Hard work and hours in the weight room can only do so much,” said Pinkston. “I only weigh 175 pounds and there’s really not much I can do about that. Genetics and body type are what they are. I’m a wife and mother and I want to be around for a long time.”

And for all that he has done for women’s athletics – in addition to being the first female in a sport many thought would never have a place for women, he has put up respectable career numbers – some think Pinkston may end up doing more harm than good to the perception of female athletes.

“Every time she short arms a pass or ducks to avoid a hit, in many people’s eyes she’s reinforcing the image of female athletes as people who are soft and can’t compete on the same level as men,” said ‘USA Today’ columnist Christine Brennan. “A lot of us who are strong advocates for women’s athletics cringe every time she goes across the middle, fearful she’ll embarrass herself.”

But regardless of whether Pinkston will ever be loved of respected in Philadelphia, her place is secure among the list of the all-time greatest female athletes.

“I’d think she has to be right near the top,” said Reid. “She’s put up respectable numbers during her career – numbers that a lot of male receivers can’t match.”