The Furnace

NFL admits in federal court that refs blew the pass interference no-call in NFC Championship

They'd really like for all of this to go away

Chris Graythen/Staff

Roger Goodell would really like for the blown call heard round the world to just go away. The NFL commissioner was even willing to go to federal court to admit (again) that the New Orleans Saints got screwed in the NFC Championship game against the L.A. Rams.

OK, he didn't exactly say that. But everybody knows that the pass interference no-call at the end of the Jan. 20 game kept the Saints from being able to at least run out the clock and kick what would have been a game-winning chip-shot field goal — if not actually score a touchdown in the final minute. (I mean, even a Democrat figured it out.)

There was also a simultaneous helmet-to-helmet no-call that would have had the same result. In fact, Rams cornerback Nickell Robey-Coleman, who admitted to pass interference after the game, received a $26,739 fine from the NFL Friday for the hit that the refs missed.

So naturally, Saints fans filed a lawsuit against Goodell and the NFL last week, because ... why not?

They believe the commissioner should negate the Rams' victory or restart the game, Reuters reported.

Which led to the latest development in the ongoing saga of Everything Bad Happens to NOLA.

According to Sports Illustrated, the NFL and Goodell admitted in the U.S. District Court in the Eastern District of Louisiana that the refs blew it. More importantly for Goodell, they want the fans' lawsuit thrown out.

S.I. reported on the filing:

"And, because the officials on the field are humans, like the players and coaches, errors will happen," court papers said. "The NFL parties do not dispute that they have previously advised the Saints, including the club's head coach, that one or more penalties for pass interference or illegal helmet-to-helmet contact were mistakenly not called late in the NFC Championship Game, and that the NFL would like its officials on the field to make these calls. This was acknowledged immediately after the game to the coach of the New Orleans Saints by NFL Senior Vice President of Officiating Al Riveron."

The league says that "overruling the Referee on the field and directing that a penalty be called" is not under Goodell's discretion, and cites NFL Rules 15 and 17 among other rules. They added that fans have no "legally cognizable right" to ask any court to ask Goodell to act on an officiating mistake.

The case will certainly get thrown out and the rest of the world will move on.

But what's to happen to the refs who crushed the dreams of "Who Dat?" Nation?

They should be fined and prevented from ever calling another post-season game. But if the NFL won't punish them professionally, Saints fans should at least get five minutes with them in a locked room with a rubber hose.

One last thing…
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