NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell responded to a letter from Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards with a letter of his own.
The Democratic governor had expressed his “deep disappointment” that officiating helped decide the NFC Championship Game and called on the NFL to fix it by expanding replay. “The very integrity of the game will be called into question” without change, Edwards wrote.
In his reply, Goodell reiterated his belief that he cannot invoke Rule 17, Section 2, Article 1 “to overturn the result of a game because of an officiating error.” He added that he believes “it would be wrong for me to do so.”
The commissioner also sounds opposed to making interference calls a part of replay. He does, however, agree the league needs to figure out how to improve its officiating.
“I fully understand your personal disappointment, and the disappointment and frustration of Saints fans throughout the country, over the outcome of the NFC Championship Game,” Goodell wrote in his letter to the Louisiana Governor, via The Advocate. “As you know, immediately following the game, our head of officiating told Coach Payton that a penalty should have been called on the play in question. I have expressed the same view to both Mrs. Benson and Coach Payton, as well as during my press conference on January 30.
“Our rules do not permit the Commissioner to overturn the result of a game because of an officiating error, and I believe that it would be wrong for me to do so. Nor have the clubs supported an expansion of replay to review decisions by game officials to call — or not to call — a penalty on the field. That said, 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. While there will always be mistakes in any game played, coached, and officiated by humans, we do not want officiating to be the topic of discussion after any game.”
Officiating, though, continues to be a topic of discussion more than three weeks after the NFC title game.