There are plenty of ways to describe how New Orleans Saints fans reacted to an all-time blown call in the NFC championship game last year.
For weeks, Saints fans bitterly harped on the officials for missing a pass interference call that sent the Los Angeles Rams to the Super Bowl and the NFL for having a rule that prevented the ruling from being overturned.
The Saints’ owner seems to think that was an impressive display.
Saints owner: Good job on not rioting
While speaking during Loyola University’s commencement on Saturday at the Superdome, Saints owner Gayle Benson had plenty to say about the blown call, per NOLA.com.
Speaking only yards away from where Rams cornerback Nickell Robey-Coleman laid a clearly illegal hit on Saints receiver Nickell Robey-Coleman, Benson reportedly called the play an “obviously terrible no-call” and said that the Saints sometimes lose because the other team is better and sometimes “when officials blow the most obvious of calls.”
Now, none of that is false. No one in the NFL seemed to think the Saints weren’t wronged in some way that fateful Sunday. And then, well, Benson started praising Saints fans for ... not rioting over a football game?
“Had this happened in another city, it is likely there would have been riots in the streets,” said Benson, who received an honorary degree from Loyola before her speech. “As bitterly disappointed as our fans were, our response was the opposite.
"Rather than riot, our protests turned into another cause: for parties. 'Boycott Bowls’ sprang up throughout the city on Super Bowl Sunday. And our fans’ displeasure with the obviously terrible no-call was expressed to the NFL by tuning out at a historic rate, delivering the lowest Super Bowl rating in the country.”
Yeah, we’re going to need to go ahead and talk about that one.
What NFC championship game reaction was Benson watching?
Look when your team loses a trip to the Super Bowl over the worst call/rule this side of the Tuck Rule, you’re entitled to some outrage. Credit to Saints fans, they indeed did not riot in the streets — a high standard for fan behavior — but they still found plenty of other things to do with their time and money.
Death threats sent to Robey-Coleman on social media.
A lawsuit against the NFL seeking to make the Rams play in a do-over.
A Change.org petition to play a rematch.
A newspaper replacing the Rams’ helmet logo with an asterisk in a Super Bowl preview.
A full-blown conspiracy theory.
Multiple members of U.S. Congress demanding action from NFL commissioner Roger Goodell.
Someone paying actual money for “Saints Got Robbed” billboards outside of the Super Bowl.
Yep, totally a measured reaction.
Benson herself spearheaded the one reaction that ended with any sort of real change with a statement released the day after the game in which she laid blame at the feet of the NFL and its officials and pledged to push for changes in NFL policy to prevent the situation from ever happening again.
Credit to Benson and Sean Payton, the Saints did end up getting that rule change. And yet, Saturday’s commencement address tells us that the team won’t be moving on from that call for quite some time.
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