By Danny  Cox

Replacement officials are most likely going to be around in the NFL until at least the fifth week of the season. Fans are certainly against it. The NFLPA is definitely against it. Players just know that replacement officials are bad news and they’ve already let their feelings about them be known.

With that being said, and the incident that happened at the Saints and Panthers game on Sunday, there is bound to be a time when a replacement referee costs a team or two one of the more important games of the season.

Replacement side judge Brian Stropolo was replaced on Sunday before the Carolina Panthers took on the New Orleans Saints when it was discovered he was a Saints fan.

Stropolo worked the season opener between the Giants and Cowboys, and was all set to officiate his second NFL game. At that time, it was revealed that pictures of Stropolo wearing Saints gear at a tailgating party were posted on his Facebook.

“You’ve got to laugh,” Panthers tackle Jordan Gross said. “The guy didn’t know he was going to be reffing the Saints game when he was tailgating.”

While it’s true that Stropolo was not aware earlier in the season that he would be calling the Saints and Panthers game, he should have known better than to have pictures like that appear online. Many have to ask, what if this “Saints fan” had ended up calling Sunday’s game and a crucial call came upon him?

Would his team loyalty as a fan won over his professionalism?

This is exactly what so many are worried about with the NFL replacement officials. Many of the replacement refs have and still do officiate some college games, but most don’t have a whole lot of experience. Some may say that the earlier games aren’t that important and hopefully the real NFL refs will be back before midseason when the games really count.

One problem is that the 2012 NFL season is already proving to be incredibly unpredictable and actually quite bizarre. Therein lies the problem in that every single game of the season is important and they all count.

No-one expected the New Orleans Saints to start 0-2. Philly barely scraping by Cleveland in Week One and then somehow beating Baltimore was not anticipated. There was most definitely not a soul around that saw the Cardinals taking down the mighty Patriots either.

Just how many calls were missed? How many calls were incorrectly determined? Is it really fair giving one team a fourth timeout in a half?

The replacement referees are doing as good a job as they possibly can, given the circumstances and the timeframe they have had to step into the big leagues. They can’t be entirely to blame for any mistakes, blown calls, or missed penalties happening in the early weeks of the NFL season, but they are certainly going to be those that feel the brunt of the punishment and wrath.

Be advised now. Sometime before the full-time NFL officials make a deal and step back onto the field, there will be a controversial occurrence that costs one team a game and has a big impact on the result, records, and possibly the playoffs.

For more Local Football Bloggers and the latest NFL news, see CBS Sports Las Vegas.

Danny Cox knows a little something about the NFL, whether it means letting you know what penalty will come from the flag just thrown on the field or quickly spouting off who the Chicago Bears drafted in the first round of the 1987 draft (Jim Harbaugh). He plans on bringing you the best news, previews, recaps, and anything else that may come along with the exciting world of the National Football League. His work can be found on


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