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NFL pulls replacement official/Saints fan from Saints-Panthers game

71cf1f4a1e655478c273da8d3dcac788 Getty Images

A replacement official has been replaced.

ESPN’s Chris Mortensen reports that the NFL has pulled side judge Brian Stropolo from the Saints-Panthers game, because he is a rabid Saints fan.  (The guy in the picture isn’t Stropolo.  At least, we think it’s not Stropolo.)

The evidence was pieced together from Stropolo’s Facebook page, which show him in Saints gear and also standing outside the Superdome for a preseason game.

It could be an isolated incident, or it could be the tip of the iceberg.  The replacement officials have never worked at the NFL level, and they surely have teams they “like” and teams they don’t.

The locked-out officials surely have (or at least had) their preferences and biases, too.  But once you choose to make officiating a career (or at least a second career), it’s time to be impartial.

The fact that Stropolo slipped through the cracks demonstrates the speed with which the league slapped together the replacement crews.  So whether it’s Stropolo being a Saints fans or Shannon Eastin being a professional poker player or — far more importantly — a possible Tim Donaghy who is trying to parlay a short-term NFL gig into a major score, the NFL doesn’t know as much about the replacements as it does about the regular officials, and it’s important for the NFL to continue to turn over stones as the lockout of the regular officials proceeds.

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55 Responses to “NFL pulls replacement official/Saints fan from Saints-Panthers game”
  1. nyjets1017 says: Sep 16, 2012 10:20 AM

    Like the regular refs don’t have their favorites. Let’s be serious

  2. frank19gut says: Sep 16, 2012 10:23 AM

    They could of used him last week against the redskins

  3. dmlonghorn says: Sep 16, 2012 10:23 AM

    Pay the effing real refs so stuff like this is no longer a thing.

  4. cootschaos says: Sep 16, 2012 10:23 AM

    Stropolo was recognized as being a Saints fan when he was spotted wearing a Piggly Wiggly grocery sack over his face. – Associated Press

  5. jets13 says: Sep 16, 2012 10:23 AM

    I think this is by in large a non-issue.

    I think the NFL did right in removing him from the game, however i’d assume mostly all refs, replacement and “real” have favorite teams…….i dont think they necessarly call games in favor for their teams but if they grew up fans of the NFL, they most likely grew up fans of certain team(s).

  6. classactcalvin81 says: Sep 16, 2012 10:25 AM

    If u love football enough to take on officiating then chances r u have a favorite team..why this comes as a surprise to anybody is anyone’s guess.

  7. dabears2485 says: Sep 16, 2012 10:27 AM

    This is a non-issue. Everyone is a fan of a team, whether they are locked-out officials, replacement officials, or players on the roster. Some guys grew up in Chicago loving the Bears, and then end up playing for the Packers. These things happen. Do we pull them?

    I understand pulling the guy from the game to avoid the controversy, but I can’t blame the guy for having a favorite team. Everyone has a favorite team, and all you can do is throw them in there and trust that they’ll be impartial – just like the locked-out refs.

  8. thestudiokida says: Sep 16, 2012 10:28 AM

    So he committed a thought crime? Dangerous territory

  9. voiceofreasonsays says: Sep 16, 2012 10:28 AM

    Who Dat? Saints*.

  10. giantsfanlewis says: Sep 16, 2012 10:29 AM

    This is a non issue. They figured out he was a saints fan an now he will be working afc game. It wasn’t a matter f him making bad calls but that he may in favor of the saints and they addressed the issue. And it can’t e any worse then last year when the regular refs did everything in their power to try to dictate the NFC playoffs until they were caught in the giants packers game

  11. pantherlouie says: Sep 16, 2012 10:33 AM

    Good. That’s all the Panthers needed was a Saints fan, posing as an official. “I didn’t see a late hit”

  12. lonespeed says: Sep 16, 2012 10:34 AM

    We talk as if the old referees were robots and the new referees are human. Both will have human tendencies.

    I’m sure the older referees had their favorites and the new referees will have there biases as well. I doubt the old referees had any advantage over the new referees in controlling those biases.

    The new referees had no previous expectation of becoming NFL officials and therefore may not have been selective in exposing their team favorites through things like social media. The older referees had the benefit of growing along with social media. They were trained not to expose their biases which I’m sure they have.

  13. cmdrsmooth says: Sep 16, 2012 10:34 AM

    If NFL didn’t ask to disclose those fact, it isn’t his fault. But it is dumb of him not to disclose it to the NFL in the first place, for his own sake. If a team were to lose to the Saints on a judgement call, the NFL scandal would overwhelm his life for the worst. Gamblers would be threatening his life..etc…sounds like a great movie plot. Hollywood, you listening?

  14. polegojim says: Sep 16, 2012 10:35 AM

    This will never be an issue for Cleveland games.

  15. jonny42671 says: Sep 16, 2012 10:36 AM

    He must have been working the game against the Vikings?

  16. nesuperfan says: Sep 16, 2012 10:36 AM

    They should make all refs state their favorite team to the league, give proof, and then have them officiate anywhere but for their team.

  17. pabrownsfan says: Sep 16, 2012 10:36 AM

    GET THE REAL REFS BACKNOW!!!!

  18. andrewproughcfe says: Sep 16, 2012 10:36 AM

    Agree with @nyjets1017 – we’ve all known for years that certain refs had favorite teams.

    I would rather they put it on their Facebook page so its out there and obvious as to why they are screwing over the opposition…

  19. cowboyscanada says: Sep 16, 2012 10:38 AM

    I wonder if the saints tried to pay him off before the game?? Haha

  20. ocdn says: Sep 16, 2012 10:39 AM

    When he took his mask off, was it Sean Peyton?

  21. mancave001 says: Sep 16, 2012 10:39 AM

    The point, jets13, is that they cannot express support publicly. Duh.

  22. harrisonhits2 says: Sep 16, 2012 10:41 AM

    So Jarred Allen’s comments the other day that replacement officials cost him a sack because they didn’t “know him” like the regular officials, ie wouldn’t give him preferential treatment like the regular officials would, doesn’t show plenty of bias in the regular officials ?

  23. tannethrill says: Sep 16, 2012 10:41 AM

    I hope one of the replacements is waiting to ref his team and just totally make crazy calls in their favor. Maybe shave the team name in their head and walk off the field without a hat.

    That would be epic

  24. someidiotfromouthereintheprojects says: Sep 16, 2012 10:45 AM

    corrupt teams with corrupt guys dressed in black in white would seem like a corrupt situation.

  25. 4thqtrsaint says: Sep 16, 2012 10:45 AM

    Cootschaos, that was uncalled for… A true Saints fan uses Winn-Dixie bags, thank you. But Piggly Wiggly will now be used for Razorback fans.

  26. makimaguro says: Sep 16, 2012 10:46 AM

    Whatever.

    This story obviously came from the old officials trying yet again to gain cred from us – the paying public. The league would never release this info.

  27. eventhorizon04 says: Sep 16, 2012 10:49 AM

    The question I have is:

    Weren’t these guys asked for their favorite teams before being hired?

    If so – how come the NFL only learned he was a Saints fan from his Facebook page? Did he lie to the league, or was the question never asked?

    If he lied, that’s one thing – the NFL isn’t going to make all these guys take lie-detector tests.

    But if the question of favorite teams was never asked, that’s negligence by the league.

  28. pantherlouie says: Sep 16, 2012 10:49 AM

    The guy was even wearing a Whodat? shirt outside the superdome on his Facebook page. Now he deleted his FB account. What a loser.

  29. getadealdonealready says: Sep 16, 2012 10:54 AM

    Aren’t most NFL players fans of a different team than the one they got drafted by and play for?

  30. ericn42000 says: Sep 16, 2012 10:56 AM

    Need the real officials back these replacements are a joke

  31. fritteraway93 says: Sep 16, 2012 10:56 AM

    A bunch of BS to highlight this. Larry Nemmers was a rabid Chiefs fan and no one thought to take him out of their games.

  32. gbditka says: Sep 16, 2012 10:57 AM

    If Roger Goodell was truly concerned about the “integrity of the National Football League,” getting the expereinced & most qualified Refs back on the field would be a daily priority till resolved. Just another instance where the Commish is talking out both sides of his mouth….is it about the almighty dollar or integrity of the game???

  33. twisteditoff says: Sep 16, 2012 11:02 AM

    loseraniaians show up once again gettign a lil sick of the garbadge state it needs to be sunk in dog poo
    and maybe they should make it a dry state it would be much dif

  34. stairwayto7 says: Sep 16, 2012 11:04 AM

    What about the devil Goodell, he hates the Steelers!

  35. FinFan68 says: Sep 16, 2012 11:06 AM

    I would assume that ALL officials have a “favorite” team that they rooted for at one time or another. I find it hard to believe that the locked-out officials chose to become officials in a league of a game they were not interested in. (If you didn’t like hockey would you go through the process of becoming an NHL official?) This guys is a Saints fan. So what? The question is not whether an official is a fan of a team; it is simply whether the official can ethically be impartial during the game. Some people can and others can’t.

    Mike, your bias (unintended?) towards the old refs is showing again. “The locked-out officials surely have (or at least had) their preferences and biases, too. But once you choose to make officiating a career (or at least a second career), it’s time to be impartial.” Why wouldn’t this statement also apply to the replacement officials? Are the locked-out guys the only people capable of impartiality?

  36. lowleadman says: Sep 16, 2012 11:13 AM

    I don’t wee why,in an 8 billion dollar a year industry, that we do not have full time refs. The officials can have such an impact on a game that you want these guys to be above reproach. Yes, they are human and will make a mistake from time to time, but it is corrected in replay for the most part. I dont want to see calls made based on an official’s favorite team whose game he happens to be calling.

  37. upperdecker19 says: Sep 16, 2012 11:14 AM

    Geaux Stropolo!

  38. geniusfan says: Sep 16, 2012 11:17 AM

    “The replacement officials have never worked at the NFL level, and they surely have teams they “like” and teams they don’t.”

    Oh and the regular officials don’t have favorites eh? I bet they do as well, maybe that’s why they blew as much calls as the replacement officials did.

    I hope the regular officials rot away with their union, they need to accept the NFL’s terms or go away. The replacements are only going to get better, as fans that have watched football for a while we realize the regular officials messed up a ton. There just wasn’t that much of a difference, heck I liked the replacements better myself.

  39. lesterclan says: Sep 16, 2012 11:22 AM

    Congratulations, Mike. Once again you prove to be the perfect Spokesman for the Old Officials! Oh, and the speed with which the NFL threw together the New Officials probably had something to do with the locked-out officials and their union trying to call the NFL’s bluff…

  40. applecool1981 says: Sep 16, 2012 11:23 AM

    I actually agree with the notion that his bias could benefit the Saints down the road. Say he’s refereeing a game where the outcome of the game could be beneficial to the Saints playoff birth, seeding, and so on. Even if he referee’s AFC game, there are tie breakers, such as record of common opponents to be thought about.

  41. illiniftw says: Sep 16, 2012 11:34 AM

    It seemed like most of the old refs must have been Packer fans with how many calls always went their way.

  42. sfsaintsfan says: Sep 16, 2012 11:40 AM

    The NFL investigation of the replacement refs to determine who their favorite teams were was done by the same guy at NFL Security who came up with the 50,000 pages of evidence. Any wonder why it took them this long to “find” the guys Facebook Page?

  43. cowdog1 says: Sep 16, 2012 11:42 AM

    So, then is this same ref going to be held out of every other game in which the outcome may benefit the Saints? Will he be banned from officiating any other game with an NFC South team playing? If the Saints happen to be in the playoff hunt, and there are still replacements, will he be banned from officiating games of other potential playoff teams? If so, why is he officiating at all.

  44. mrlaloosh says: Sep 16, 2012 11:58 AM

    Berth, not BIRTH! Duh!

  45. pksoze says: Sep 16, 2012 12:00 PM

    We need unbiased refs like Bill Leavy back.

  46. kepickle says: Sep 16, 2012 12:03 PM

    MORE reason for me & others to Hate the saints

  47. bluebongzilla says: Sep 16, 2012 12:05 PM

    The regular officials have teams they like and teams they don’t like, too.

  48. marcinhouston says: Sep 16, 2012 12:09 PM

    Stropolo was willing to be neutral but wasn’t willing to take direct orders from Goodell to assure the Saints lose on the field in revenge for their victories in court.

  49. bluebongzilla says: Sep 16, 2012 12:20 PM

    On top of that, Paul Tagliabue is a Redskins fan and had season tickets before he became Commish. Roger Goodell is a Giants fan. How do I know? Because he came right out and said so.

  50. zack2482 says: Sep 16, 2012 12:36 PM

    I thought that more than 50% of the locked out officials were Stealer fans

  51. pftcensorssuck says: Sep 16, 2012 12:36 PM

    bluebongzilla says:Sep 16, 2012 12:20 PM

    On top of that, Paul Tagliabue is a Redskins fan and had season tickets before he became Commish. Roger Goodell is a Giants fan. How do I know? Because he came right out and said so.
    ———————————————————
    It’s not like he worked for the Jets or anything, right?

  52. dzor22 says: Sep 16, 2012 1:00 PM

    FINALLY!! I thought most of the referees the last few years WERE Saints fans.

  53. mjkelly77 says: Sep 16, 2012 1:05 PM

    lowleadman says:Sep 16, 2012 11:13 AM

    I don’t wee why,in an 8 billion dollar a year industry, that we do not have full time refs. …
    ___________________

    The NFL will have full-time refs. After this year when the NFL tells the greedy part-timers to stay home permanently, they’ll cherry pick the best of the new referees. By then the NCAA Division I referees will know the NFL means business and the best of them will be available for full-time, permanent positions. By next year the NFL will have the youngest, most dedicated and best officials they’ve ever had. And they’ll be full-time, able to work on they’re craft year-round with encyclopedic knowledge of the rules. I’m looking forward to it.

  54. prospero63 says: Sep 16, 2012 2:21 PM

    Good thing there is no union to keep the NFL from being able to do the right thing.

  55. whatevnfl says: Sep 16, 2012 3:22 PM

    And just think, the whole mess could have been avoided simply by setting privacy settings.

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