New light has been shed on the way the Saints roughed up Brett Favre in the 2010 NFC Championship Game after the revelation that cash bounties were offered to any Saint who could knock Favre out. The Saints didn’t succeed in getting Favre out of the game, but they did hit him repeatedly, get flagged for some hits and fined for others. And Favre says the referee apologized to him for missing one hit that was fined and not flagged.
That hit came from Bobby McCray, who drilled Favre below the knee on a play on which Favre threw an interception. It was a brutal shot and a clear violation of the rules, as NFL V.P. of Officiating Mike Pereira admitted after the game: “It is the kind of hit that we want called because, clearly, we’re trying to protect the knees.”
Peter King of Sports Illustrated, who has been looking back on that game as he reports on the Saints’ bounty scandal, said today on the Dan Patrick Show that Favre told him referee Pete Morelli apologized for missing the call.
“Favre told me that Morelli apologized to him for not calling the high-low call that basically started this whole story, and caused Saints players on the sidelines, at least one, to be rejoicing and slapping hands and another one to say ‘We got him, we got him’ and another one to say, ‘Pay me my money,’” King said. “Morelli, by the way, through the league, denies telling that to Favre. . . . Favre said that Morelli apologized to him for missing that call, which was a blatant, horrible missed call, and Morelli denies it.”
Morelli may deny apologizing, but he should be sorry for a huge missed call in a huge situation. At SI.com on Tuesday, King wrote about just how big that missed call was. A roughing the passer penalty would have wiped out Favre’s interception and moved the Vikings into easy field goal range with the score tied late in the third quarter, meaning they likely would have scored at least three points there in a game they ended up losing in overtime. It’s entirely possible that the Vikings, not the Saints, would have gone onto the Super Bowl if Morelli hadn’t blown that call.