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NFL side judge pulled from game for being a Saints fan

From Jill Martin, CNN Sports
September 16, 2012 -- Updated 1818 GMT (0218 HKT)
When the New Orleans Saints play on Sunday, their fan Brian Stropolo will not be the side judge.
When the New Orleans Saints play on Sunday, their fan Brian Stropolo will not be the side judge.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Member of officiating crew for Sunday's Saints vs. Panthers game is a Saints fan
  • "We must avoid even the appearance of a conflict," NFL spokesman says
  • NFL failed to reach labor deal with regular officiating crew prior to start of season

(CNN) -- NFL side judge Brian Stropolo has been pulled from Sunday's New Orleans Saints vs. Carolina Panthers game because he's a Saints fan, NFL spokesman Greg Aiello confirmed to CNN.

Stropolo has a Facebook page -- which has since been pulled -- showing him in Saints gear.

"He was taken off game due to the information disclosing that he is a Saints fan. We must avoid even the appearance of a conflict," Aiello said

The NFL failed to reach a labor agreement with its regular officiating crew earlier this month, prompting the hiring of replacements. Stropolo was hired as replacement staff.

Alternate Tim Keese is replacing Stropolo as side judge for Sunday's game in Charlotte, North Carolina. Officiating crews always have an alternate in case a backup is needed for any reason.

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