Just how unprofessional are the NFL’s current crop of replacement referees?
So unprofessional, the league had to pull one from a game, mere hours before it started, because his Facebook page revealed him to be a fan of the team he was about to call.
Referee Brian Stropolo, a Louisiana native, had littered his Facebook page with his allegiance to the New Orleans Saints. Pictures show him in Saints gear and tailgating in the team’s parking lot before a preseason game. In one status update, which received 73 likes, he bragged about being scheduled as a line judge when the Saints visited the Carolina Panthers Sunday.
“That's awesome you get to be an official for a Saints game! I didn't think they would let you since your from Louisiana," one friend commented.
Players and fans alike have piled criticism on the current crew that calls NFL games, who are filling in while the league’s usual refs are locked out, due to a contract dispute. The dispute also prevents the NFL from using college refs, forcing the league to resort to grabbing replacements who are used to calling middle school and Lingerie League games.
According to ESPN’s Chris Mortensen, the NFL was unaware of Stropolo’s fandom when he contacted the league about it on Sunday morning but conceded there was "an appearance of impropriety" in the apparent conflict of interest. The league found a replacement line judge in time for the 1pm kickoff.
Stropolo has since deleted his Facebook account. It’s unclear if he plans on creating a replacement.
Photo via Wikimedia Commons