The NFL replacement refs aren’t supposed to play favorites during games. Which is why the league was worried when side judge Brian Stropolo was put on the schedule for the New Orleans Saints game today against the Carolina Panthers.
Stropolo, who is from New Orleans, was scheduled to act as one of the side judges during the Saints game today. The replacement ref was pulled from the game after ESPN reporters noticed Stropolo wearing New Orleans Saints tailgating gear on Facebook. The NFL was notified about the pictures and decided that it was best to pull Stropolo from the game.
No one is accusing Stropolo of trying to swing the game in the Saints favor but the league made the right choice by finding a substitute.
After his week one game, Stropolo wrote on Facebook: “Thanks to everyone for all the support. The crew did a great job tonight. Next stop September 16th at Carolina vs the Saints.”
That status update was followed by several comments from people suggesting that he pocket his yellow flags for the Saints.
One person wrote: “Hey, now be nice with those yellow flags for our Saints!!”
Another added: “That’s awesome you get to be an official for a Saints game! I didn’t think they would let you since your (sic) from Louisiana.”
Pulling Stroplo, however, speaks to a bigger issue. The NFL replacement refs were rushed into the league after the NFL and the Referees Association failed to come to an agreement before the season. The NFL didn’t realize that Stropolo was the wrong man, through no fault of his own, to ref the Saints game until early this morning. The league says that the NFL replacement refs go through the same background checks as the locked out officials but it looks like a few details have slipped through the cracks.
What do you think? Is Stropolo to blame for carelessly putting up tailgate photos from a prior Saints game? Or should the league be criticized for scheduling a NFL replacement ref from New Orleans to a New Orleans game?
[Stropolo Not Pictured Above]