Posted September 16, 2012

Brian Stropolo, replacement ref, pulled from Saints-Panthers game

Carolina Panthers, New Orleans Saints

(Facebook.com)

The latest unusual twist in the ongoing replacement official saga came Sunday courtesy of Brian Stropolo. Stropolo was scheduled to serve as the side judge in Week 2′s Saints-Panthers game — at least, until the NFL discovered that Stropolo appears to be a Saints fan.

ESPN’s Chris Mortensen reported Sunday that Stropolo, a New Orleans area native, posted pictures of himself on Facebook from a tailgate prior to the Saints’ Aug. 25 preseason game against Houston. As of noon on Sunday, Stropolo appeared to have deleted his Facebook page.

Each NFL officiating crew carries an alternate with it,  mostly in case of injury. Such a scenario arose in last week’s Lions-Rams game, when one of the game’s officials suffered an injury during a play and had to be replaced. However, Stropolo’s early dismissal will leave the Saints-Panthers crew shorthanded if one of the other game officials has to exit for some reason.

While the on-field performance has not resulted in any major, game-changing errors thus far, Stropolo’s incident adds a little more indignity to the situation. Earlier during this process, replacement official Shannon Eastin — who became the first female to officiate an NFL regular-season game (also that Lions-Rams contest) — came under some fire when it was revealed that she had competed as a professional poker player. This morning, Albert Breer reported that an official who worked last week’s Seahawks/Cardinals game has in the past worked as an official at Seahawks practices, possibly creating a conflict. And SI’s Peter King wrote a couple weeks back about an official who picked up a flag after being yelled at by a coach, a big-time no-no in the refereeing world.

FOX’s Mike Pereira, the former NFL VP of Officiating, alleged in August, too, that the league was embellishing the credentials of its replacement officials to save face.

There’s been no official verdict from the league yet on Stropolo’s status moving forward. At the very least, he figures to be barred from officiating any more Saints games, but can the league trust him to work others? Would Panthers, Falcons or Bucs fans feel comfortable with Stropolo working one of their teams’ contests?

The NFL’s regular officials have not had a lot of moments that gave them obvious leverage in their dispute with the league, but Stropolo’s hiccup might do just that.

5 comments
JayGriffiths
JayGriffiths

Too bad the regular refs are being overly demanding.  If they don't want to work for a reasonable salary, can't blame the NFL.

tillzen
tillzen

The NFL is a mansion on the hill. The NFL has hired scab referees as house-sitters. Unfortunately,these guest workers are narcoleptic chain-smokers and the mansions made of Balsa wood.

Tom15
Tom15

Facebook is trouble. Delete your accounts, now.

MysticYat
MysticYat

I'm sorry, is this a policy that is now being enforced evenly against all officials who have ever shown a preference for a specific team?  I'm thinking that would eliminate virtually all officials since I'm sure that when they are not working on a Sunday, they are at home with their friends and family cheering on their home team.  Or is this just something applied to selective officials who are fans of teams that the NFL is pissed off at?

PierrePhou
PierrePhou

Are sports fans as a whole, let alone NFL fans, really so thick as to think a significant amount of officials aren't harboring some personal team preferences? If we really can't trust that these officials can separate their official duties to officiate games fairly and objectively, no matter which teams are playing, then doesn't that undermine the whole group of referees, replacement or otherwise?These conflicts of interests should be acknowledged, but routine, so they shouldn't be used as an example of discrediting the replacement officials. It comes up with the regular ones too, which is why they go through so much trouble juggling the crews around from week to week. I guess my point is, this really shouldn't be reported like it's some big scandal, which is how the media is apparently trying to frame it.