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Opinion: NFL Ref or Fan?

NFL Referees Association
Controversial and conflicting calls at end of Seahawks and Packers game.

It’s the fourth week of cold beers, breathtaking games and good times. However, everything isn’t breezy street. The replacement officials are damaging the image of the National Football League.

The replacement referees have been accused of everything from having a fantasy team to officiating the games of their favorite teams. Lesean McCoy, running back for the Philadelphia Eagles, found it amusing when a replacement official told him to score points for his online fantasy team.

“I’ll be honest; they’re like fans,” McCoy said. “One of the refs was talking about his fantasy team, like, ‘McCoy, come on. I need you for my fantasy.’ Ahhh, what?”

Another replacement official was pulled from his assignment three hours earlier. Why? Brian Stropolo, the side judge, had displayed his unabashed passion as a longtime Saints fan on his Facebook page, which has since been disabled. He also posted a game assignment, a violation of league policy. The NFL was unaware of Stropolo’s open allegiance to the New Orleans Saints until ESPN contacted the league.

The original officials have not returned since the lockout over salaries and retirement benefits last season, and the players desperately want them back. Washington Redskins cornerback DeAngelo Hall announced that he’d be willing to contribute $2 million to get them back on the job.

“I don’t know what the NFL and regular officials are arguing about,” Hall said, “but I’ve got a couple mil on it, so let’s try to make it work. I’m sure this locker room could pony up some cash and try to help the cause out.”

Over football weekend, teams and players had a plethora of complaints about penalties and missed calls, especially after the Seattle Seahawks’ 14-12 win against the Green Bay Packers on Monday night.

Ray Lewis of the Baltimore Ravens had more than enough to say. “The game is played the way the game is played, but there’s some serious calls the refs missed,” Lewis said in the locker room via “And that’s just the way it is, man, all around the league. And that, for our league to be what it is, we have to correct that.”

There is no doubt of a problem with the NFL replacement officials. Some would describe the officials as star-struck and intimidated by the grand stage. The integrity of the game is being jeopardized by these actions and leaving many asking the question: Ref or fan?

Donavon Murphy is a sports reporter for





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