And they’re right to be.
The Saints got hosed out of a chance at a legacy-defining Super Bowl appearance thanks in large part to the blatant incompetence of Sunday’s officiating crew at the Superdome and a lack of recourse from the NFL to correct an obvious critical error.
There’s no doubt refs likely altered outcome on Sunday
It’s fine and fair to blame the Saints for blowing a 13-0 lead to the Los Angeles Rams to argue that they wouldn’t have been in the position to lose the game had they simply closed out a lead at home.
But that argument doesn’t change a conclusion that’s simple to reach. Had the refs not screwed up in a critical moment with one of the worst blown calls in the history of sports on Sunday, we’d likely be discussing a Tom Brady-Drew Brees Super Bowl matchup on Monday.
Instead, the Rams are going to the Super Bowl with a chance to mark their place in NFL history. There’s nothing that can change that fact now.
Or is there?
Michael Thomas looks to NFL rule book for help
Saints receiver Michael Thomas, one of the aggrieved victim’s of Sunday’s screw-up, looked deep into the NFL rule book and called for action in a direct twitter appeal to commissioner Roger Goodell early Monday.
The part of the rule book Thomas cites in his tweet gives the commissioner power to reverse a game’s result or reschedule a game completely or from the time of an “extraordinary act” that occurred in a game.
“The Commissioner’s powers under this Section 2 include the imposition of monetary fines and draft-choice forfeitures, suspension of persons involved in unfair acts, and, if appropriate, the reversal of a game’s result or the rescheduling of a game, either from the beginning or from the point at which the extraordinary act occurred.
In the event of rescheduling a game, the Commissioner will be guided by the procedures specified in 17-1-5-11, above. In all cases, the Commissioner will conduct a full investigation, including the opportunity for hearings, use of game video, and any other procedure the Commissioner deems appropriate.”
What exactly is an extraordinary act?
Article 1 of the same section of the rule book appears to define parameters of what would constitute an “extraordinary act.”
“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.”
The rule appears to lend all authority to Goodell to determine what would warrant such drastic action. Thomas later made sure that Goodell knew he was talking to him.
Hey Roger pick up the phone.
— Michael Thomas (@Cantguardmike) January 21, 2019
He’s also making the case that a blown call constitutes an act “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.”
Thomas has a case in that the call had a major effect on the result of the game. It’s the “outside the accepted tactics encountered in professional football” part that would provide some hangups for his argument.
Blown calls are far from ‘extraordinary’
As demonstrated every Sunday and notably on championship Sunday, blown calls are far from “outside the accepted tactics” of professional football. As much as everyone hates it, officiating error is an inevitable, human element of the game.
That doesn’t excuse the crew in the Superdome Sunday for their egregious ineptitude.
But it also doesn’t mean Goodell is going to consider invoking the lengths granted him by the rule book to take the extraordinary measure of an NFL do-over in a championship game.
Sorry, Saints. You’re just going to have to live with this one.
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