Boy, I sure wouldn’t want to be in the New Orleans Saints’ position right now. The organization knows that it got screwed over, regardless of whether or not it was intentional, on a highly controversial non-call that in all likelihood would have allowed them to advance to the Super Bowl. Instead, without the call being made, the game unfolded differently, and they ended up losing.
That non-call should have been defensive pass interference, which has been publicly acknowledged by pretty much everybody but the NFL so far as they continue to drag their feet in doing so. Even the offending player was very clear about his understanding that he committed a foul, which occurred on third and 10 in the red zone and would have set up first and goal with under two minutes to play.
Saints owner Gayle Benson issued a statement yesterday to address the situation in which she described herself as “thoroughly disappointed by the events that led to the outcome of yesterday’s game”.
“Getting to the Super Bowl is incredibly difficult to do and takes such an unbelievable commitment from a team and support from its fans”, the letter reads. “No team should ever be denied the opportunity to reach the title game (or simply win a game) based on the actions, or inactions, of those charged with creating a fair and equitable playing field”.
It’s hard to think of many more examples of games such as this in which such a clear and obvious officiating mistake in an NFL game so dramatically affected the outcome at this level of competition, in the game to determine who would reach the Super Bowl. It’s definitely a black eye for the league, and they have yet to meaningfully address it.
“I have been in touch with the NFL regarding yesterday’s events and will aggressively pursue changes in NFL policies to ensure no team and fan base is ever put in a similar position again”, she went on. “It is a disservice to our coaches, players, employees and, most importantly, the fans who make our game possible. The NFL must always commit to providing the most basic of expectations: fairness and integrity”.
So what exactly will this ‘aggressive’ approach to addressing the circumstances entail? It’s hard to imagine there being many solutions that the league will even consider, and my guess is one they won’t consider is allowing a non-call to be challenged to be made a penalty in retrospect.
Now, if the reverse had happened—say, like what happened in the Saints’ game against the Pittsburgh Steelers—then that’s more likely. Reversing a call on the field of a penalty into a no-foul situation is much more realistic.