NFL: Replacement ref pulled from game - reports

Posted at 09/17/12 9:57 AM

CHARLOTTE, North Carolina - The NFL has reportedly removed a replacement official from the crew for New Orleans' game at Carolina on Sunday because he's a self-described Saints fan.

According to both ESPN and the NFL Network, Brian Stropolo was taken off his scheduled duties as a side judge because photos on his Facebook page prominently showed him wearing Saints apparel.

NFL executive vice president of football operations Ray Anderson told NFL.com the league decided to err on the side of caution in removing Stropolo from the contest, to prevent any question of conflict of interest.

"We took the safe and appropriate measures," Anderson said.

Stropolo worked the season-opening game between the New York Giants and Dallas Cowboys.

He's one of the replacement officials drafted to work this season by the NFL, which is in a labor stalemate with its officials.

The league locked out officials in June and advised teams in the last week of August it planned to open the 2012 season using replacements.

Talks broke down again on September 1, with the sides still at odds on economic issues, including pay and pension, and non-economic issues involving the league's desire to be able to replace officials it believes are inadequate.

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