The stories about NFL replacement referees’ incompetence and being overmatched continue to surface. Now come a case of an official apparently encouraging a player to perform for the referee’s benefit.
One day after the NFL was forced to remove a ref from Sunday’s New Orleans game against the Panthers when it was discovered he was a Saints fan, Eagles running back LeSean McCoy claims one of the refs told him Sunday he had Philly’s Pro Bowl back on his fantasy team.
“I’ll be honest, they’re like fans,” McCoy told local Philadelphia radio station 94WIP during a segment that aired Monday. “One of the refs was talking about his fantasy team, like ‘McCoy, come on, I need you for my fantasy,’ ahhh, what?!”
NFL spokesman Greg Aiello told Pro Football Talk in an email that officials are not permitted to play fantasy football.
McCoy, who rushed for 81 yards and a touchdown in the Eagles’ 24-23 win over the Ravens, also said players were trying to intimidate the replacements.
“During the game, they made like a bad call or something, the ref, and I see Ray Lewis like pump his chest up, trying to scare him,” McCoy told a Philadelphia radio station. “Don’t you know (the ref) started stuttering? I’m like, ‘What’s this?!'”
After the league’s fill-in official did an overall relatively competent job in the opening week, it’s been one misstep after another for this rag-tag crew of replacements since then.
Forget the blown calls and almost unwatchable games — the Broncos-Falcons Monday night affair is still fresh in our memory — now the NFL has a bigger problem on its hands … the integrity of these replacement officials is being called into question.
In the Saints situation from Sunday, NFL spokesman Michael Signora said side judge Brian Stropolo was relieved of his duties for the game “because of the information that surfaced disclosing that he is a Saints fan.”
ESPN was first to report that Stropolo has posted several pictures of himself in Saints gear during a preseason game on his Facebook page. Stropolo, who is from New Orleans, had worked the NFL Opener between the Cowboys and Giants in Week 1.
There was alsoa report that one of the refs from the Seahawks vs. Cardinals game in Week 1 had previously worked for three years as an official during Seattle’s scrimmages. The official was paid by the club for his participation, which is a violation of the league’s conflict of interest rules for its officials — scabs and full-timers alike.
ESPN reported that the referees and NFL are about $4 million a part in the negotiations for a new contract. And here’s the worst part: no new discussions have been scheduled.