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Poor judgment, not being a fan, was the problem with Stropolo

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The league’s decision to remove side judge Brian Stropolo from the Saints-Panthers game because Stropolo is a Saints fan creates a problem for the NFL.

But the bigger problem isn’t that Stropolo is a fan.  The problem is that he exercised poor judgment in posting pictures on his Facebook page indicating that he’s a Saints fan.

As NBC officiating consultant Jim Daopoulos explained it in the viewing room moments ago, every official has a rooting interest.  But that gets set aside when the officials are being graded on every call they make, and when they’re trying to continue to be NFL officials.  In fact, Daopoulos said that officials often are tempted to go the other way when a team they “like” is involved, overcompensating for the rooting interest.

For Stropolo, he should have kept the pictures to himself or, better yet, not posed for them at all (especially if they were taken since he became a replacement official).  The fact that Stropolo exercised poor judgment in that regard should make the league wonder whether he may exercise poor judgment when he’s back on the field.

The league’s decision also opens a potential can of worms as it relates to the use of replacement officials moving forward.  If they have rooting interests, should the NFL keep them from working the games of the teams they like and don’t like?

The problem with that approach is that the league possibly would have to shuffle the deck each week, reconfiguring crews in order to avoid any appearance of impropriety.

Either way, it’s a common reality for NFL officials.  But the regular officials have the sense not to proclaim whatever rooting interest they may have.  Once they get those assignments, they become fans of keeping their jobs.  For replacement officials, who necessarily are working on a short-term basis (unless the lockout doesn’t end any time soon), that incentive to permanently set aside rooting interest simply isn’t there.

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9 Responses to “Poor judgment, not being a fan, was the problem with Stropolo”
  1. maxl49 says: Sep 16, 2012 12:48 PM

    Every media member that ever attends a Roger Goodell press conference in the future has a duty to talk about the NFLRA negociations fiasco anytime Goodell talks about the integrity of the game …

  2. dirtmcgirt24 says: Sep 16, 2012 12:50 PM

    No. His problem was willingly accepting the assignment without saying a word.

  3. kattykathy says: Sep 16, 2012 12:54 PM

    Goodell has a sick obsession with the Saints. He has no neutrality whatsoever regarding the team, it’s players, or their fans.
    His clear bias against all things Saints is becoming very disturbing.

  4. mazblast says: Sep 16, 2012 12:54 PM

    “the regular officials have the sense not to proclaim whatever rooting interest they may have.”

    Oh, so hiding your rooting interest makes it OK to officiate that team’s games?

    “If they have rooting interests, should the NFL keep them from working the games of the teams they like and don’t like?”

    Today’s first “well, duh” statement of the day. I hope the league already has procedures in place for this event.

  5. unclemoobaa1911 says: Sep 16, 2012 12:55 PM

    I think the real lesson here is that social media websites like Facebook and Twitter are dumb.

  6. barbeaux says: Sep 16, 2012 12:58 PM

    I don’t think he really did anything wrong in posting the pics. Why? Transparency. Would you rather him hide which team he likes and leave it up to number crunching and analysis to try to determine if he has bias for a team? The best solution would be to have all officials say and prove which teams they are fans of.

  7. dzor22 says: Sep 16, 2012 1:26 PM

    The Saints. All I have to say about that.

  8. prospero63 says: Sep 16, 2012 2:25 PM

    As I said, good thing there’s no union to keep the NFL from doing the right thing. And hey, how about the irony of proclaiming at least the old officials have the sense not to proclaim their rooting interest. Because being deceitful in these situations is soooooo much better….

  9. maximus929 says: Sep 16, 2012 4:02 PM

    Stunning analysis… Given that every Ref has a “rooting interest” in a team they like, they should be asked to state that interest publicly and never be allowed to do a game in which they have an interest.

    To do otherwise is an incredible conflict of interest…. Imagine Walt Coleman having an interest in the Patriots winning the “tuck rule” game because he was a fan…

    To say they wouldn’t make a call for the home team because they are judged on it is ridiculous.

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