Acceptance isn’t coming easy in New Orleans.
The blatant missed pass interference call — or unnecessary roughness penalty, take your pick — that that took away the Saints’ chance to run the clock down and kick a potentially game winning field goal Sunday is now the subject of at least one lawsuit asking for a partial do-over of the NFC championship game that sent the Rams to the Super Bowl.
It’s the legal equivalent of a Hail Mary pass from the 50-yard line.
The Louisiana state court filing, on behalf of two Saints season-ticket holders, requests that NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell implement a league rule governing “extraordinarily unfair acts.” Remedies include reversal of a game’s result or the rescheduling of a game — in its entirety or from the point when the act occurred.
“So what can the NFL do about the outcome of the Rams-Saints game? Probably nothing,” New Orleans area attorney Frank J. D’Amico Jr., aka “The Strong Arm,” said in a statement Tuesday. “Bad calls happen. Sometimes, bad calls have bigger consequences than others.”
Here’s the text of Rule 17, Emergencies and Unfair Acts in the NFL’s rule book. The statement mentions Section 2, Article 1, which states: “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 he 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.”
In effect, the two teams would reconvene and the game clock would be set back to the point at which the Rams’ Nickell Robey-Coleman plowed into Saints receiver Tommylee Lewis. Robey-Coleman admitted after the game that he “got away with one.”
“Basically, the Commissioner has the power to turn back time to the spot of the penalty that wasn’t called, put the teams back on the field from that point in the game, give the Saints first and goal at the spot of the foul, put 1:49 on the clock, and let the game proceed…,” D’Amico said in his statement.
The NFL hasn’t responded. A hearing is scheduled Monday.
The Super Bowl is Feb. 3.
“Why is the rule there if it’s not going to be implemented?” asked D’Amico, who filed the suit in state Civil District Court in New Orleans on behalf of season-ticket holders Tommy Badeaux and Candis Lambert.
The larger issue highlighted by the blown call involves whether the NFL will consider expanding replay reviews to include certain penalties, including pass interference. Two people with direct knowledge of the NFL’s plans told The Associated Press that the league’s competition committee once again will look into including more plays for video review. The people, who spoke Tuesday on condition of anonymity because the NFL has not publicly announced such plans, stressed that the committee looks into the parameters of replay yearly. It has considered inclusion of what are considered judgment calls by officials in the past.
The committee always has opposed placing judgment calls of any kind in the replay process. Any changes to replay would need approval by at least 24 of the 32 team owners, but first the competition committee would need to make recommendations.