Should NFL referees be able to show fandom in their team?
The NFL replacement referees seemed like trouble from the start. Most football fans knew there would be controversy, but thought it would happen on the field. If you have not heard, replacement referee Brian Stropolo was recently yanked from the Panthers and Saints game. Stropolo, who worked the season opener with the Cowboys at the Giants, was scheduled to be a line judge during the Saints game. No one knew at the time though, but Stropolo is actually a Saints fan. Many pictures were linked to the media of him wearing Saints gear, and the decision to pull him was swift. For this edition of the Hot Corner, we will decide what is greater —— your team or your job.
I think there is something completely wrong with bias in the sports world. I mean, getting past listening to Terry Bradshaw talk up the Steelers or Coach Ditka brag up his Bears, I think that when your job is to be an official you must be entirely unbiased. We run into these problems in high school when officials are usually from certain areas. They pull for their hometown team, and it causes issues. This is the same thing.You cannot sit on a jury if you previously know about a case, so you should not be allowed to officiate a game if you are tied to the team that is playing. If he is a Saints fan, then that is fine.
If he wants to be an official in the NFL, then that is fine also. Just be sure to make it known to everyone before putting your job in jeopardy. There is a time and place for
everything. Do not mix work and pleasure. It never works out, just ask Steve Phillips.
As if the situation with the replacement officials in the NFL was not strange enough already, it seems the situation seems to be getting more and more unusual.
This time, it involved the league pulling replacement referee Brian Stropolo out of Sunday’s Saints-Panthers game, all because he is supposedly a Saints fan.
According to ESPN, Stropolo’s Facebook account shows photographs of him wearing Saints gear. The NFL said Stropolo’s support of the Saints is not improper in any way; however, the decision to remove him from the game was taken as a “precautionary measure to prevent any further conflicts.”
Really, NFL? Really?
Watching some of the games from last Sunday, particularly the Ravens-Eagles game, it is clear that these replacement refs are struggling to do their jobs. They are confusing themselves as far as penalties and spotting the ball go.
However irritating they may be to the players, coaches, and fans alike, they are all just doing their jobs. So, who is to say the case involving Stropolo would have been any different?
Before today, I never thought that the refs actually followed a favorite team like regular fans, so I was a bit surprised to see this on ESPN NFL
Gameday Sunday morning.
Just because a ref happens to follow and root for an NFL team does not mean that the league should immediately assume that ref will give that team an unfair advantage when he happens to be at one of its games. This case is no different.
While we will never know if Stropolo had any intentions of giving the Saints an unfair advantage during their game Sunday, it shocks me to think that the NFL would automatically assume he would.
Tim Keese was Stropolo’s alternate replacement, and to add insult to injury, Stropolo was also replaced as the alternate ref.
The NFL is following protocol so that it does not get engulfed in a potentital mess that would ultimately call into question the integrity of the NFL. The NFL does not want to turn into the NBA, where every call, especially in the fourth quarter is put under the microscope by fans, media and coaches.
Of course the NFL is doing the right thing by taking Stropolo out of this game. I completely agree with Nick on this one. When your job is to show an unbiased stance on the teams that are playing, how could you be the referre in a game where your favorite team is playing?
The NFL made the safe option for Sunday’s game, but maybe with Stropolo at the game, New Orleans could have made sure they did not fall to 0-2 on the season.