Commissioner Roger Goodell probably shouldn’t worry about a lawsuit filed in New Orleans over the blown call at the end of the NFC Championship. Goodell probably should worry (at least a little bit) about another potential scenario for sworn testimony, sparked by a U.S. Representative from New Orleans.
“What the entire nation witnessed during this past weekend’s NFC Championship game was an upset as a result of an unfair penalty, and I join Saints players, coaches, and fans far and wide over this disappointment,” Congressman Cedric Richmond (D-La.) said in a statement. “The Saints should be on their way to Atlanta to play in the Super Bowl. Instead, they are left with the memory of officials who failed to create an equal playing field and deprived them of that opportunity. Officials should not have the ability to determine the fate of a team who rightfully earned their place in NFL championship history.”
It’s one thing to express a concern, it’s another to specify action that can be taken in response to the concern. Richmond did.
“I have since spoken with colleagues on the Judiciary Antitrust Subcommittee about inviting NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell to answer some important questions about the unfair call against the Saints,” Richmond said, “a call that he has the jurisdiction to overturn. I stand with Saints owner Gayle Benson on the urgency and significance of having this issue addressed so that it does not happen again. The Saints got the short end of the stick, and I am proud to witness the strength of the franchise and the unswerving support of Who Dat Nation. I look forward to conveying these views to Mr. Goodell soon.”
While it would be easy to dismiss the statement as pandering to those who elected Richmond into office, it would be unwise to assume that every effort to compel Goodell to answer tough questions about how the NFL officiates games will automatically fail. As legalized gambling begins to proliferate, the NFL should be concerned that any given controversy could be the controversy that prompts Congress to conclude that the NFL isn’t capable of taking care of its own business — and that Congress should do it for the NFL.
More specifically, the league should fear the possible creation of a federal agency that would oversee the NFL, and possibly other pro sports. That’s the last thing the league would want, since it would remove from the league the exclusive authority to determine the league’s business, subject to the authority of no one.