NFL pulls side judge for being Saints fan

The NFL has removed a replacement official from the New

Orleans-Carolina game because it discovered he’s a Saints fan.

Side judge Brian Stropolo has been replaced by an alternate, Tim

Keese. The NFL made the decision Sunday morning just hours before

kickoff.

”He was replaced because of the information that surfaced

disclosing that he is a Saints fan,” league spokesman Michael

Signora said.

The league will look further into the matter. It received

several phone calls and emails about Stropolo, who is from New

Orleans and posted several photos of himself in Saints gear

tailgating at a preseason game on his Facebook page.

Stropolo’s Facebook page has since been taken down.

Stropolo worked the Week 1 NFL opener, a nationally televised

game between the Cowboys and the defending Super Bowl champion

Giants.

ESPN was first to report the news.

Panthers general manager Marty Hurney declined comment on the

situation, calling it ”a league matter.”

The NFL locked out the regular officials in June after their

contract expired. Negotiations with the NFL Referees Association

broke down several times during the summer, including just before

the season, and the league is using replacements for the first time

since 2001.

Back then, the lockout lasted for one week of the regular season

before a settlement was reached. This is the second weekend the

replacements are being used, and the NFL has drawn up a five-week

schedule for using them if the labor dispute is not resolved.

Last week, there was one major error by the replacement

officials, when they awarded Seattle an extra timeout in the final

minutes of a game at Arizona. The Cardinals held on to win and the

crew’s referee admitted the mistake after the game.