Over the past few days, the NFC Championship game between the New Orleans Saints and Los Angeles Rams has sparked controversy after the Rams pass interference penalty went uncalled by referees. Now, Saints season ticket holders are suing the NFL, demanding a re-match.
The outcome of the NFC game led the Rams to advance to Super Bowl LIII – their first appearance at a Super Bowl game since 2001. However, Saints fans noticed that in the NFL rulebook, a clause notes that the league commissioner has the power to take disciplinary or corrective measures to change the outcome of a game. So, technically, commissioner Rodger Goodell has the ability to let the teams hold a re-match, or award the Saints as the winning team.
Rule 17, Section 2, Article 1 reads:
“The Commissioner has the sole authority to investigate and take appropriate disciplinary and/or corrective measures if any club action, non-participant interference, or calamity occurs in an NFL game which the Commissioner deems so extraordinarily unfair or outside the accepted tactics encountered in professional football that such action has a major effect on the result of the game.”
On behalf of Saints season ticket holders, New Orleans attorney Frank D’Amico, Jr. has filed a lawsuit that asks Goodell to use his authority to make the teams replay the NFC game.
“So what can the NFL do about the outcome of the Rams-Saints game? Probably nothing,” D’Amico said in a statement. “Bad calls happen. Sometimes, bad calls have bigger consequences than others.”
Two attorneys from Simon Law Offices in Lafayette also sent a letter to Goodell, writing that “a large asterisk sits next to the title NFL champions” and “allowing the status quo to stand is a ‘black eye’ on the history and integrity of the game which you have been entrusted to preserve and protect.”
Even politicians are getting involved – Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards sent Goddell a letter, expressing his “deep disappointment” and calling for a replay.
“The very least that any fan of the Saints, or any other team, should be able to expect from any game is that the result will be decided by the players on the field,” Edwards wrote, according to Associated Press. “By missing the obvious, blatant and intentional penalty at the end of the game, the referees in Sunday’s game undermined that expectation and unfortunately were allowed to determine the winner.”
Various industry experts say its highly unlikely that the NFL or Goodell will change the outcome of the NFC game, since the call was not the only reason the Saints lost that night. Saints coach Sean Payton, however, believes that the call was “game-changing,” CBS Sports reports.
“Just getting off the phone with the league office. They blew the call,”. “Man, there were a lot of opportunities though, but that call puts it first-and-10 and we’d only need three plays. It’s a game-changing call. That’s where it’s at, so it’s disappointing. For a call like that not to be made, it’s just hard to swallow.”