NFL inches toward a public acknowledgement of error in Rams-Saints

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The NFL has yet to publicly acknowledge the blown call late in the fourth quarter of last Sunday’s Rams-Saints game. The NFL has come dangerously close to making that concession in court papers filed over the weekend.

At page 2 of the league’s 22-page response to the lawsuit filed last week in New Orleans seeking to compel the Commissioner to intervene regarding the outcome of the NFC Championship game, the league mentions — without publicly admitting its error — that an error privately has been communicated to the Saints.

“The NFL parties do not dispute that they have previously advised the Saints, including the club’s head coach, that one or more penalties — for pass interference or illegal helmet-to-helmet contact —
were mistakenly not called late in the NFC Championship Game, and that the NFL would like its officials on the field to make these calls,” the league’s lawyers write at page 2 of the NFL’s submission to the court. “This was acknowledged immediately after the game to the coach of the New Orleans Saints by NFL Senior Vice President of Officiating Al Riveron.”

Whether the league takes the next step remains to be seen. Commissioner Roger Goodell likely will face questions about the situation during his annual pre-Super Bowl press conference on Wednesday. Either he’ll admit the mistake or he won’t. The league possibly is resisting at this point as a matter of basic stubbornness, refusing to do what so many want the league to do simply because so many want the league to do it.

91 responses to “NFL inches toward a public acknowledgement of error in Rams-Saints

  1. The people who are saying, “Can we move on” are very short-sighted. If it were to happen to your team you would be talking about moving on. You would be shouting from the mountain tops that the wrong team was awarded a win.

    Everyone should be upset with what happened. NO, WE SHOULDN’T FINALLY MOVE ON. For the sake of fairness in the game, the NFL needs to be held accountable and changes need to be made. Otherwise there’s no reason to watch the games as it’s no better than pro wrestling.

  2. I am so glad this did not happen to my team. This is proof positive that people can still argue over something that is a 100% certainty–this call completely affected the outcome of the game. The fact that anyone can debate this is a sign of how people can argue factual information–something people are doing everyday.

  3. maybe they arent making a public comment now bc this is a legal matter and they cant admit guilt immediately? you would think, though, with gun violence and police corruption being out of control in so many parishes, that the legislation would have more important things to focus on. guess not.

  4. What’s the point now?
    Honestly, some Saints fan please tell me what the obsession over the NFL making a statement is?
    What really can the NFL say that will help satisfy you? I can’t think of anything outside of stripping the Rams from the game and inserting the Saints, which won’t happen, that the NFL can publicly announce that the Saints fans will like.

    Everyone knows that the inevitable conclusion of this is the NFL makes a statement, the Saints fans are just gonna go: What? That’s it?? Really!?!?!

  5. At this point it’s probably become a matter of not putting out a statement that Fraudger would have to defend in his SB press conference. He can get away with “our formal statement will be forthcoming and it’s not appropriate for me to comment” or “In light of current litigation we have no comment at this time.”

  6. “Either he’ll admit the mistake or he won’t”

    Great leaders will take ownership, be held accountable, and clearly communicate when mistakes are made.

    But yeah, we’re talking about Goodell. So he’ll dodge these questions but give extensive answers to the NFL Super Bowl kid who asks about his favor color or dessert.

  7. I’m sorry, what’s the point? I don’t feel sorry for the NFL at all but I also don’t see what a public acknowledgement will do. Everyone, even Rams fans, knows it was an egregious non-call.

  8. Everyone knows they screw up and change the outcomes. Remember the temp ref fiasco that cost Green Bay a win, and many others. High definition tv and a dozen cameras have changed the game and the league is not keeping up.

  9. Why is this a big deal? Publicly acknowledging the mistake would make no difference at all, other than possibly adding more fuel to the fire.

  10. So does the Rams Nickell Robey-Coleman who made the hit still get to keep his Super Bowl bonus share? He was fined 26K but a Super Bowl share is likely to be more than that. In 2017 the reported Super Bowl share was $112k/player for the winning Eagles, $56k/player for the losing Pats. If Robey-Coleman gets to keep it, then the NFL is allowing a player to enrich himself while endangering another player. In this case, a helmet to helmet hit turns out to be pretty lucrative.

  11. phinfan says:

    January 28, 2019 at 11:38 am

    How about the blown call regarding Tom Bradys non-roughing the passer?

    ==========================================

    That was quickly made up on the next play with the non-call of the Chiefs PI on Gronk. Or the noncalled pick play on the Chiefs final TD drive.

  12. I feel for the NO Saints organization and fans.

    But calls get missed. Balls get overthrown. Fumbles, missed assignments….

    There is a human element to the game that cannot be changed.

    Really – I feel for you. But you don’t trash the entire game because people make mistakes. The NO players made mistakes – including an uncalled facemask penalty which would have given the LA Rams the same 1 yard line field position instead of a FG.

    The NO Saints had the ball first in OT – just like the NE Patriots, where oddly there are those who claim this is too much of an advantage to the team who wins the coin flip (only wins 52.4% of the time…fact).

    Please – for the love of peace and prosperity – accept the outcome and move on.

  13. I’m surprised the NFL even found a New Orleans law firm that would take their case. Hopefully they pay enough so that firm never has to work again, because they won’t.

  14. When will they announce those two officials are fired??? Or perhaps they aren’t as the league is probably very happy to get the LA fan base ‘excited’, if it’s at all possible to do that…..

  15. Goodell points to Rule 15, Section 1, Article 3 which says the following:

    “The Referee’s decisions upon all matters not specifically placed under the jurisdiction of other officials by rule are final.”

    So, why does rule 17 exist? Sounds like rule 17 should be used because the referee made no decision. The referee did nothing which is the basis of the complaint.

  16. Maybe we can change the NFL tagline to say something like “The National Football League: Writing Carefully Worded Statements Since 2006”.

  17. Goodell will announce the ‘Roughing the Passer’ call against KC was egregious and harmful to the NFL and then award the Saints to replace the Patriots in the, first ever, NFC SB Championship Game.

    Most of you will applaud Kaiser Goodell of his brilliance and ‘integrity’ as your souls become so void of Truth, that you celebrate this Monster and declare it to become a National Holiday.

  18. Get over it Saints fans. Bad calls in all games. If you want to be mad at someone be mad at your HC/OC who decided to keep throwing incomplete passes at the end of regulation allowing the Rams time to tie the game and the failing totally in OT….

  19. rolf1015 says:
    January 28, 2019 at 11:38 am
    “Either he’ll admit the mistake or he won’t”

    Great leaders will take ownership, be held accountable, and clearly communicate when mistakes are made.

    But yeah, we’re talking about Goodell. So he’ll dodge these questions but give extensive answers to the NFL Super Bowl kid who asks about his favorite color or dessert.

    As the Saints Franchise was so “Kindly” reminded back in 2012 is that “Regardless of the situation, the Person at the top should know what is going on and should be held ACCOUNTABLE!”

    Well Rog, among other issues, you have Bungled the Ray Rice situation, The Concussion situation, Deflategate, Bountygate, The Patriots cheating issues and now not 1 but BOTH Championship games were decided by Horrible no calls or calls that cost TWO Franchises to be cheated out of their Superbowl Births.

    When will YOU, AS THE LEADER AT THE TOP, Accept YOUR MISTAKES AND ERRORS AND STEP DOWN?

    Of course, that would require you to have a SPINE and ACTUALLY do something that WE ALL KNOW YOU ARE NOT CAPABLE OF.

  20. I firmly believe that when it comes to the NFL, always just follow the money, and what they are trying to accomplish. If I were a Saints’ fan, I would still be livid! It could NOT be more obvious, that blatant play was intentionally not called. The sideline video does not lie, while 2 refs were right there and not 1 of them called the penalty. I don’t care what happened during the game or in OT!! That 1 play decided the outcome, and it seems quite obvious the fix was in, sadly!! I could imagine there are a lot of people, who feel the same way. That should be the last thing the NFL wants, and they need to make a statement….like yesterday…..

  21. Missed calls happen…not just in that game, but in most games. Unfortunately, the metrics around this particular call ( and some others ) in this pivotal game, look very bad on the officials and the NFL at large.

    First, the missed call was so obvious that every football fan watching on site or on television witnessed it. No, it wasn’t the first missed call ever ( even in this game ), but it was so obvious that even Rams fans were wondering WTF?

    Secondly, NFL officials ( specifically NFL ref #90 ) were grossly negligent. In fact, the official standing next to Sean Payton started to pull out the flag only to be waved off by #90 ( video evidence has shown that without question ). The reason? Supposedly #90 was calling a tipped ball…but he wasn’t the official that would have called that infraction as that responsibility would have fallen to the ref watching line play.

    Thirdly, “coincidence” or no, all four field referees were from California, and two were even from Los Angeles itself. While that may not be an indictment in and of itself, it certainly waters down whatever confidence fans worldwide may have in the efficacy of “The Shield”.

    Finally, many are calling for the head of Roger Goodell. To be sure, his silence only lends credence to the conspiracy theorists out there, but Goodell isn’t the primary problem. The league’s insistence on putting teams into the L.A. market, combined with the size of the NFL’s investment in the L.A. market should at least raise some eyebrows.

    Fans know that this is an imperfect game, and that errors will happen. But the comedy of errors in this case combine to give the NFL a bad look just when they are struggling to emerge from the Kaepernick debacle. Some fans may even abandon the NFL for more credible sports as a result…and for those that stay to watch, much of “The Shield” has been permanently sullied.

  22. donato77 says:
    January 28, 2019 at 11:20 am
    The people who are saying, “Can we move on” are very short-sighted. If it were to happen to your team you would be talking about moving on. You would be shouting from the mountain tops that the wrong team was awarded a win.

    Everyone should be upset with what happened. NO, WE SHOULDN’T FINALLY MOVE ON. For the sake of fairness in the game, the NFL needs to be held accountable and changes need to be made. Otherwise there’s no reason to watch the games as it’s no better than pro wrestling.

    ———

    I agree with the second part. The 1st part is overstated. Granted, the Saints *likely* would have won if not for the missed call. But it wasn’t a sure thing by any measure. “Awarded a win” is simply not true. It’s not like it was the game winning FG and they missed a fan tackle the kicker.

  23. Admit the error. Admit the error likely (98% in fact) altered the outcome of the game. Finally, assert what your plans are to ensure something this egregious never happens again. I mean…this could have been the Patriots or the Giants. Could you only imagine.

    FAKE SUPER BOWL!!

  24. Are they going to apologize for the missed facemask call on goff that would have given them first and goal at the 1 the series prior?

    Are they going to apologize on behalf of Sean Paytonmfor throwing on first down inside the 2 minute warning or Drew Brees for throwing it at Michael Thomas’ feet?

    Bad calls happen. What they should do is eliminate these all star ref crews and keep the refs that earn the playoff assignments their normal crews.

  25. I don’t see why this is so hard for the NFL. Their management of things like this is even worse than the officiating system itself.

    All Goodell has to do is say:

    1. It was a blown call. We are sorry.

    2. We don’t have the systems in place to prevent this or remedy it in real-time. We need to fix that ASAP.

    3. No, I’m not going to have the game replayed from that point. This rule was intended to allow the Commissioner to rectify an obviously wrong outcome as the direct result of something unpredictable like an Act of God. Example: If the stadium was struck by lightning and the ball exploded as it touched the upright on the game-winning FG. Or, what if a fan ran onto the field and tackled a runner at the 1 yd line as he was about to score the game winning TD? What if there was a natural disaster in the middle of a game? In this case, we acknowledge that the missed call *may* have changed the result of the game. But we don’t know that for certain. So, we’re not replaying it. We’re going to focus on making sure we can fix human error if need be.

  26. Chill_Donahue says:

    January 28, 2019 at 11:45 am

    phinfan says:

    January 28, 2019 at 11:38 am

    How about the blown call regarding Tom Bradys non-roughing the passer?

    ==========================================

    That was quickly made up on the next play with the non-call of the Chiefs PI on Gronk. Or the noncalled pick play on the Chiefs final TD drive.

    ——
    They get a free touchdown out of the deal and are still complaining about a 2nd and 7 call.

    Meanwhile on one play Berry literally looked like he was riding a horse as he was holding Gronk down the field. As Gronk strode, Berry was bobbing up and down with a handful of jersey. No flag!

  27. rolf1015 says: “Great leaders will take ownership, be held accountable, and clearly communicate when mistakes are made.”
    =========================

    Goodell has already spoken with the owner Gayle Benson, GM Loomis and head coach Sean Payton, three people that he is responsible and accountable to.

  28. What I want to hear from the NFL is an acknowledgement that officiating is horrific overall and that they have plans to address it before next season. Bad calls, non-calls and inconsistent application of rules occur routinely in every game and they’re absolutely ruining the product on the field. Now we’re to the point where incompetent officiating has directly influenced a Championship game.

    The NFL has a full blown crisis on their hands. They need to acknowledge it and enact changes ASAP.

  29. Oh and can NFL also admit that the refs missed a hands to the face, and a holding against the saints on same play before he threw the ball? If the refs had thrown three flags, two on saints and one on rams, they would offset and we’d have the same result. Rams dominated game. Oh and the facemask prior on saints on rams drive before the saints finally drive.

    In other words, if all fouls would’ve been called,nothing would have changed. Its a fact. Look at play and you’ll see a hands to the face on Brees left and a hold on his right before ball thrown.

  30. Lockport Lax says:

    January 28, 2019 at 11:47 am

    When will they announce those two officials are fired??? Or perhaps they aren’t as the league is probably very happy to get the LA fan base ‘excited’, if it’s at all possible to do that…..

    That’s just silly, man. The Rams don’t have a fan base. They never have in any location.

    For those of you mentioning the human element…please…THIS WAS NOT THAT. This wasn’t a judgment call that could go either way. It wasn’t 2 players converging on the ball at the same time. It wasn’t bang bang. That’s why there’s an uproar…its because the optics are so very, very bad. Also…its wasn’t as if there was 1:48 left in the 2nd quarter. Make the call and the Saints win…everyone knows this.

  31. This shows you how the band of lucky 32 owners aren’t much smarter than the rest of us. They encourage the incompetence by continuing to employ Roger. Yet when you look under the hood at a lot of these guys, they all have their own skeletons in the closet and just care about making more money. Haslam, Irsay and the rest will ruin this league over time.

  32. The LA player did what players are coached to do and that is to take a strategic penalty if the play looks like it is going to result in a crucial score. It was the referees that didn’t do their job and call a penalty. I don’t see why the league doesn’t at least fine the officials

  33. donato77 says:
    January 28, 2019 at 11:20 am
    The people who are saying, “Can we move on” are very short-sighted. If it were to happen to your team you would be talking about moving on. You would be shouting from the mountain tops that the wrong team was awarded a win.
    —————————————————————————————-
    I shouted from the mountain top when Brett Favre got illegally bludgeoned by the Saint’s and what food has it done me? It takes about 10 years but you finally move on! Thanks for all of your concern back then, when you told me to move on!

  34. donato77 says:
    January 28, 2019 at 11:20 am
    The people who are saying, “Can we move on” are very short-sighted. If it were to happen to your team you would be talking about moving on. You would be shouting from the mountain tops that the wrong team was awarded a win.

    =========================================================================

    It did happen to my team and the Saints were the team that were the beneficiaries of it in 2009. The league doesn’t need to be held accountable. They need to change the rule so that type of call / non call can be reviewed. That’s it. Stop making this more than it is. It was a blown call against your team in a huge moment. That sucks. Move on.

  35. And Goodell says nothing. How can that be? Over a week since the non call and the puppet of the owners stays on course and say’s nothing. This reads like a Seinfeld episode,
    “The NFL is about nothing” “It’s about no integrity” “Nothing”

  36. This statement from the NFL CFO suggests they considered the ramifications of replaying the final 1:49 but, due to potential financial risks, they decided no go.

    So it appears they agree it was an egregious mistake, just not worth the financial risks of doing the right thing.

    ‘Last week, the NFL said in a separate court filing that redoing the NFC title game between the Rams and Saints would mean a pricey delay of the upcoming Super Bowl.

    NFL Chief Financial Officer Joseph Siclare said replaying even a few minutes of the NFC championship game because of a missed passed interference call would force a delay for an event that demands an investment of “more than $100 million.”

  37. phinfan says:
    January 28, 2019 at 11:38 am
    How about the blown call regarding Tom Bradys non-roughing the passer?
    ———————————
    I agree.
    “There was no foul for roughing the passer on the play. Pass interference. Defense. Ball will be placed at the spot of the foul. First down. New England.”

  38. “Or, what if a fan ran onto the field and tackled a runner at the 1 yd line as he was about to score the game winning TD?”

    That would be neat. I could see the runner getting up and going into the end zone and spiking the ball, but the ref calling him down by contact at the one, even though the fan isn’t a valid player.

  39. 2dat says: “As the Saints Franchise was so “Kindly” reminded back in 2012 is that “Regardless of the situation, the Person at the top should know what is going on and should be held ACCOUNTABLE!”
    =======================

    If it wasn’t for Goodell’s dedicated efforts after Hurricane Katrina, your team would be in San Antonio right now as that was where Tom Benson wanted to move…

  40. donato77 says:
    January 28, 2019 at 11:20 am
    The people who are saying, “Can we move on” are very short-sighted. If it were to happen to your team you would be talking about moving on. You would be shouting from the mountain tops that the wrong team was awarded a win.

    Everyone should be upset with what happened. NO, WE SHOULDN’T FINALLY MOVE ON. For the sake of fairness in the game, the NFL needs to be held accountable and changes need to be made. Otherwise there’s no reason to watch the games as it’s no better than pro wrestling.

    ——————–

    It has happened to my team and it will happen again. To err is to be human. What good will it do for the league to make a statement? The outcome won’t change. It was a bad call, that is obvious. You want the ref fired for a mistake regardless of past performance? Want Goodell to give into mob mentality? You think that plays well with your employees at this level?

    I am afraid it is you that is very short sighted. Remember this is just a game. No one guarantees anything when it comes to sport.

  41. The game is over. The Saints didn’t get offensive holding calls against them because the refs wanted to protect Brees. Some of the Rams defensive linemen looked like they had been mugged. Stop whining. They let the players play.

  42. If they officiate games tight then people complain the refs are trying to be too much part of the game.

  43. Everyone going on about how “That call changed the outcome of the game!” or “Fake Super Bowl!” really needs to realize that there were a TON of wrongful no-calls that night benefiting both teams. To only focus on one and ignore all the others means you’re not really interested in fairness.

    Fire the refs, sure. Make all calls or non calls reviewable, sure, but think about it first. But the results have to be treated as legitimate. Incompetence for one side cancels out incompetence for the other.

  44. So Ill say this: it was an egregious call and would have effectively ended the game.

    That being said Sean Peyton should have held himself accountable first and formost for the situation. The saints choked by not running the ball on first down and effectivey conceded that the rams would get the ball back with 140ish down by 3 or 7. The only way the rams weren’t getting the ball back was of the saints somehow got a first down either by penalty or the 1 1/2 yards between the first down marker and endzone.

  45. lx2019- we also saw Brees get hit in the head on the OT int. You wanted that call made, did you? And the head shot that knocked out NO’s tight end? I didn’t think so. This one was away from all traffic, intentional with an intent to injure. If you can’t see the difference there’s nothing left to say.

  46. bjwbrown2011- NO was getting a first down bc that play broke wide open and would have likely been TD by the words of the man who committed a deliberate foul with intent to injure.

  47. It’s the definition of a frivolous lawsuit because there is no guarantee the Saints would have won if it would have been called. Would they have gotten a first down and moved the ball closer? Yes. Is it likely they could have run down the clock and kicked a game-winning field goal? Yes. However –

    Is it possible they would have fumbled on one of the ensuing plays while running out the clock? Yes.
    Is it possible the kicker would have missed if he had lined up closer? Yes.

    Unless there is a clear cause-and-effect, you can’t do anything to overturn this result. It was a blown call, get over it.

  48. Weather he admits it or not. Makes no difference. Fans dont sign his paycheck. He has boosted revenues for the owners. That’s all they care about. Fans just keep fueling their offshore accounts, super yachts, whatever. They do not have a care in the world. Nothing will change and we cant, and wont do a darn thing about it to make it so.

  49. anyone who is upset with Goodell just has to pray for a Patriots win in the SB. Remember the boos raining down on Goodell when he presented the trophy at the end of SB 51?

    It will happen again if the Pats win.

  50. When will we get a public acknowledgement of error from Sean Payton for his boneheaded play calling at the end of regulation and from Drew Brews for his INT in overtime. Every fan base can probably point out several games in there teams recent history where a Refs call changed the outcome. The difference in this case however, is that the Saints actually had several chances after this non-call to win the game. They blew it!!!

  51. Which error, though? That non-PI call was terrible. But the non-facemask call on the prior Rams drive most likely cost them a touchdown as well, which alters the game just as much as the PI.

    The teams each had two possessions after the PI no-call, 9 points were scored, and the Saints turned the ball over in overtime.

    In every sense but how “obvious” the missed call was, this is like almost every other bad call that happens in every game. Where would the apologies stop?

    I think the league could have nipped it in the bud by suspending the two officials in question (assuming they have that power), but with the lawsuits flying right away and the kangaroo court of public opinion, most lawyers would probably say doing nothing is the safest option.

  52. What does it matter? People want their pound of flesh from Goodell as always and that’s the only reason they are calling for him to say something. The league is in a no win situation here. The mistake was made and the crazies are filing lawsuits over it. There is nothing Goodell can say to change the outcome and what he does say could be twisted by lawyers in court. They let Payton know they were wrong and not much else they can do at this point.

  53. so, once publicly admitted and is the RAMS win the SB. will they be declared “Superbowl *Champions” or *Superbowl Champions. Where do you put the asterisk?

  54. The NFL is still not doing the right thing. They lost their liability insurance because of the one billion dollar payout for brain injuries. They did not act soon enough in that situation. On this current no call interference they needed to correct the issue to sustain the integrity of the game. Yes that means replay the game right away. Replaying the game the next day to save time would have worked. The estimated cost of 100 million dollars would have been less. There is no way to excuse the call that was not made other than to indicate it was gross negligence by the officials or gambling interference. In either case replaying the game from the point of the no call interference would have maintained integrity for the NFL.

  55. kevpft says:
    January 28, 2019 at 2:12 pm

    I think the league could have nipped it in the bud by suspending the two officials in question (assuming they have that power), but with the lawsuits flying right away and the kangaroo court of public opinion, most lawyers would probably say doing nothing is the safest option.
    ————————–

    They have the psigate fraud cover story disseminated before the fans had even cleared out the stadium, so there is no reason that the NFL couldn’t have gotten ahead of this. Of course the league has the power to suspend officials, and they have suspended refs for committing less egregious violations.

  56. If not for ridiculous PR stunt lawsuit, maybe the league would have commented by now. But Mike, you, as a lawyer, should know that the first rule of being sued is to not comment pubicly.

  57. NFL should fight back and defend the call. From a parallel angle, the ball does in fact arrive at essentially the same time as the defender. A bang bang play, and the officials made a judgment call; in a championship game, the referees should in fact be swallowing their whistles. Let them play

  58. The NFL should fight back and defend the call. From a parallel or side angle (rather than from behind) we do in fact see the ball arriving at essentially the same time as the defender. This was a bang bang play; the officials let it go as they should have in the 4th quarter of a Championship game. Let them play; let the players decide the outcome-

  59. The NFL will never admit that the wrong team is playing in the Super Bowl. They will sidestep the issue and make declarations that steps will be taken to ensure that these kinds of mistakes won’t happen in the future.

  60. Absolutely insane the NFL didn’t have a plan of action for something like this. A huge missed call in a major game is something EVERY sport has to worry about. But Roger just kept his head in the sand and never planned a response for that possibility?

  61. Here’s the thing…I would rather see almost ANY team than the Rams in the SB…even the Pats! But the fact remains that officials will make mistakes. Regardless of instant replay, errors happen because we’re human, so just leave well enough alone and move on.

  62. The NFL is probably rooting for the Rams, because they realize the mistake they made allowing the Chargers to move to the LA market. A Rams Super Bowl win makes the Chargers failure in LA a higher probability, along with another relocation.

  63. Keep hiring the officials the way they have over the past decade and you’ll continue to get the expected result.

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