Everyone, take note that your Facebook page really can impact your professional life. ESPN’s Chris Mortensen reports this morning that replacement referee Brian Stropolo has been removed from the crew of referees for Sunday’s game between New Orleans and Carolina.
Stropolo’s Facebook page revealed that he was publicly known as a fan of the Saints. Stropolo had many pictures of himself tailgating in Saints gear. The NFL became aware that Stropolo’s fandom might have an impact on the game after seeing a post that read “Thanks to everyone for all the support. The crew did a great job tonight. Next stop September 16th at Carolina vs. the Saints.” Additional comments on Stropolo’s post indicated the possibility that Stropolo could, as a referee, help tilt the game in New Orlean’s favor.
The NFL took action to remove Stropolo from the game after saying it found that his Facebook page “unabashedly displays fan passion for the Saints.” Stropolo will be replaced by an alternate referee that travels with the crew, per Mortensen.
Had Stropolo not been removed from the game and this news broke after the Saints-Panthers game, it would look terrible for all parties involved. The replacement referees have had enough issues to deal with as it is, including multiple negative remarks from NFL players. The NFL had to protect their integrity as well, making sure that the game was called evenly and fairly. The league should be commended for taking such action.