The state of NFL officiating is so dire, the league has been forced to replace a replacement official after he was revealed to be a die-hard New Orleans Saints fan.
According to CBS Sports senior football blogger Will Brinson, the league worked quickly to diffuse the situation after Facebook photos emerged showing line judge Brian Strapolo looking dapper in a matching Saints hat and sweater (see story link). Strapolo was assigned to Sunday's Saints-Carolina Panthers tilt, leading some to believe that chicanery may have been in order.
ESPN notified the NFL of the photos, and the league yanked Strapolo from the game. Strapolo's Facebook page also mysteriously disappeared shortly after word spread of his Saints fandom.
The incident, while hilarious, is sure to work against the league as it continues to lock out its regular officials.The NFL has insisted repeatedly that it has done background checks on every replacement that has taken the field, and NFL executive vice president of football operations Ray Anderson told NFL Network that the league "took the safe and appropriate measures."
According to Brinson's report, Tim Keese will replace Stropolo as line judge for the Saints-Panthers game. It isn't known whether Strapolo will be kept in the NFL's employ as the lockout of the regular referees drags into the second week of the regular season with no settlement in sight.