Roger Goodell sent letter to Louisiana governor, says NFL will review officiating procedures

New Orleans Saints head coach Sean Payton was upset over a non-call in the NFC championship game. (AP)
New Orleans Saints head coach Sean Payton was upset over a non-call in the NFC championship game. (AP)

Nothing Roger Goodell could ever say will make New Orleans Saints feel better.

Yet, the issue won’t die either. The Saints feel they were robbed of a spot in Super Bowl LIII due to a non-call on an obvious pass interference by the Los Angeles Rams. If the call was made, the Saints would have kicked a field goal as time expired. We all know that didn’t happen.

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Louisiana politicians got involved — when has anything productive ever happened from a politician getting in some grandstanding over a sports story? — as the story continued to grow.

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One complaint from Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards resulted in a letter from Goodell.

Roger Goodell says NFL will review procedures

Goodell’s letter, posted on Louisiana’s government site, says the NFL basically couldn’t do anything but will take a look into its officiating procedures to avoid a similar situation in the future.

“I fully understand your personal disappointment, and the disappointment and frustration of Saints fans throughout the country,” Goodell wrote in the letter, dated Feb. 6 (via the New Orleans Times-Picayune).

According to the Times-Picayune, in January Edwards wrote a letter to Goodell that stated, in part: “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.”


In Goodell’s response he said head of officiating Al Riveron told Payton “a penalty should have been called on the play in question,” and he personally expressed that to Payton and Saints owner Gayle Benson.

“Our rules do not permit the Commissioner to overturn the result of a game because of an officiating error, and I believe it would be wrong for me to do so,” Goodell wrote. “I agree that it is incumbent on us to review this issue closely to determine if there are changes in our rules or procedures that would prevent a similar occurrence in the future.”

Goodell says NFL treasures relationship with New Orleans

Again, nothing will change the outcome of the game, or the angst that Saints fans feel. The non-call is arguably the biggest officiating controversy in league history, since a blatant mistake very likely changed who played in the Super Bowl.


It also overshadowed a phenomenal conference championship weekend, and needless to say, the NFL doesn’t want a repeat of that.

“While there will always been mistakes made in any game played, coached and officiated by humans, we do not want officiating to be the topic of discussion about any game,” Goodell wrote.

Goodell also wrote “we treasure our relationship” with New Orleans and reminded Edwards that New Orleans was just awarded a future Super Bowl. There was probably a subtle message in there, because cities battle over the right to land Super Bowls. The Times-Picayune wrote that Edwards claimed landing a Super Bowl as a win for his administration.

All that’s clear following the non-call is that the relationship between the league and New Orleans won’t be too cozy for a long time.


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Frank Schwab is a writer for Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at or follow him on Twitter!

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