SBD/September 17, 2012/Leagues and Governing Bodies

NFL Not Firing Replacement Ref Pulled From Game; Will Not Give Him Saints Assignments

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Replacement ref Brian Stropolo was pulled from the Saints-Panthers game on Sunday
NFL Exec VP/Football Operations Ray Anderson indicated that Brian Stropolo, a replacement official who was pulled from yesterday's Saints-Panthers game after pictures showing him as a Saints fan were found on his Facebook page, is “not fired," according to NBC's Peter King. Stropolo is "going to work a game next week, just not a Saints game” (“Football Night in America,” NBC, 9/16). ESPN's Chris Mortensen, who broke the story, said the NFL has been “emphatic that its replacement officials have passed the appropriate background checks and meet all the standards of integrity and ethics that is required of their regular locked-out officials.” ESPN’s Ed Werder cited Panthers officials as indicating that they were "not involved in resolving this situation” with Stropolo. However, they “expressed disappointment that Stropolo failed to reveal his obvious conflict of interest and that the league was otherwise unaware of it” ("Sunday NFL Countdown," ESPN, 9/16). 

EMBARRASSMENT FOR NFL: CBS’ Jason La Canfora said the Stropolo news is an “embarrassment and it’s not anything PR-wise that looks good” for the league. The NFL “will do a complete review of the matter, but I don’t think it’s going to change much in terms of their resolve ... with the locked-out officials” (“The NFL Today,” CBS, 9/16). In Charlotte, Tom Sorensen writes the NFL “ought to be embarrassed.” The league now is “going to have to check the Facebook page, Twitter account and blogs of every replacement official,” as they were “fans long before they became NFL officials.” Sorensen: “Since they didn’t work league games, they were entitled to be” (CHARLOTTE OBSERVER, 9/17). ESPN’s Tom Jackson said these replacement officials “were all fans -- probably -- of some NFL football team,” but “most troubling is he didn’t come forward with that information” that he was a Saints fan before officiating the team's game. Jackson said, “All of this puts in question the integrity of the league.” He added Stropolo "can't work again" in the NFL ("Sunday NFL Countdown," ESPN, 9/16). USA TODAY’s Jarrett Bell writes for “the coverup alone, Stropolo must be canned by the league.” It is “standard for potential employers to check social media sites for damning information on job candidates.” Had the NFL “done this, the league would have discovered photos of Stropolo all decked out in Saints gear on his Facebook page” (USA TODAY, 9/17).

CALLING OUT THE LEAGUE: Ravens QB Joe Flacco following the team's 24-23 loss to the Eagles yesterday called out the officials during his postgame press conference. He said, "The NFL and everybody always talk about the integrity of the game. I think this is kind of along those lines. Not to say these guys are doing a bad job, but the fact that we don't have the normal guys out there is pretty crazy." ESPN.com’s Jamison Hensley noted Flacco's criticism of the replacement officials “is warranted.” Hensley: “I wish other players would follow suit. Flacco is only saying what most fans and reporters are thinking.” The replacement referees “lost control of the Ravens-Eagles game early and often.” They “took forever to sort out calls, which is why the game lasted 3 hours, 38 minutes.” The replacement refs are “impacting games in a very negative way” (ESPN.com, 9/16). In Philadelphia, Bob Brookover writes the refs during Week 2 were “embarrassingly bad in a variety of ways.” If NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell “allows the folly to continue deep into the season he will be eroding his own shaky credibility.” Ravens coach John Harbaugh said that he “observed chaos on the field and admitted that the officiating played a part in it.” In addition, there were “two two-minute warnings in the second half” (PHILADELPHIA INQUIRER, 9/17). King in his weekly SI.com "Monday Morning Quarterback" column writes the Ravens-Eagles game "careened from one wild post-whistle scrum to the next, with no ejections." King: "Watching football Sunday, I felt like a passenger in a car going 20 miles an hour too fast on a mountain road with hairpin turns; we weren't going to die, but it was going to be a dicey ride" (SI.com, 9/17).

TIME FOR A CHANGE: FOXSPORTS.com’s Mike Pereira writes there are “so many little things that took place Sunday that they are all starting to add up to big things.” Yesterday's errors spanned from "not penalizing a coach for challenging a play that couldn't be challenged (Washington-St. Louis) to allowing the clock to run after an incomplete pass (Cleveland-Cincinnati) to calling a chop block that wasn't a chop block (Dallas-Seattle) to calling an incomplete pass that should have been ruled intentional grounding (Oakland-Miami).” Fans should not “expect replacements to know the intricacies of the NFL rule book in two weeks on the job,” as it “takes years.” But it “doesn't take long -- two weeks -- to see this is not working” (FOXSPORTS.com, 9/17). In Seattle, Danny O’Neil wrote under the header, “Enough Talking; It’s Time For Refs To Return.” O’Neil: “I'm not going to presume to say who is right and who is wrong in this labor dispute, who is asking too much or who is giving too little. ... But in terms of revenue, the league is fighting over the equivalent of the spare change that falls into the couch with a group of people who help make their product so palatable to consumers” (SEATTLE TIMES, 9/16).

RULE READING: In N.Y., Kate Murphy featured locked-out NFL ref Ed Hochuli in her Sunday Download feature. Hochuli said of what he reads, “Rules. Lots of rules. NFL referees have casebooks with literally thousands of play situations. We have tests every week that take five hours to finish. I study every day. When things happen on the field, I can’t stop and look it up. I also read a lot of science fiction” (N.Y. TIMES, 9/16).
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