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.