The NFL has issued a formal response to a lawsuit fiied by New Orleans Saints fans who want Commissioner Roger Goodell to order a replay of the end of last week’s controversial NFC Championship game.
Responding to a lawsuit which was filed Sunday in the United States District Court in the Eastern District of Louisiana, the league admitted referees did make a mistake by not throwing a pass interference flag. But league lawyers added that fans have no “legally cognizable right” to ask any court to make Goodell act on an officiating mistake.
“And, because the officials on the field are humans, like the players and coaches, errors will happen,” according to the NFL’s court papers. “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. This was acknowledged immediately after the game to the coach of the New Orleans Saints by NFL Senior Vice President of Officiating Al Riveron.”
In their filing, the league also asked for the lawsuit to be tossed out of court.
During the controversial play in question, Saints quarterback Drew Brees threw a pass to Tommylee Lewis but LA defensive back Nickell Robey-Coleman clearly contacted him before the ball arrived, causing the pass to fall incomplete.
Had Lewis been able to catch the ball, the Saints could have run down the clock and kicked a game-winning field goal. Instead, they left enough time for Los Angeles to tie and the Saints ended up losing in overtime.
The call was so egregious that the NFL is now considering making pass-interference penalties reviewable via the replay system.