Good morning, Who Dat Nation.
It’s Wednesday. Affectionately known as hump day. The first hump day following the Saints’ NFC Championship loss to the Rams, courtesy of the most ridiculous blown call in the history of the NFL. And I’m still just as angry, sad, and confused as the rest of you. I can still hear the plastic crunch sound of Nickell Robey-Coleman hitting Tommylee Lewis too early and too high. It plays over and over in my head. I will never forget it.
But I’m here to urge Saints fans everywhere to get over that hump today. It’s time to let go of certain delusions.
Like the delusion that Roger Goodell is going to use his authority and allow a replay of the Saints vs. Rams NFC Championship game, either from the beginning of the game or from the point of the missed call.
Mike Florio proposed that as a possibility late Sunday night by referencing Rule 17. He mentions Rule 17, Section 2, Article 1, which says: “The Commissioner has the sole authority to investigate and take appropriate disciplinary and/or corrective measures if any club action, non-participant interference, or calamity occurs in an NFL game which the Commissioner deems so extraordinarily unfair or outside the accepted tactics encountered in professional football that such action has a major effect on the result of the game.”
He also mentions Rule 17, Section 2, Article 3, which says: “The Commissioner’s powers under this Section 2 include . . . the reversal of a game’s result or the rescheduling of a game, either from the beginning or from the point at which the extraordinary act occurred.”
At first glance, this looks very promising. And, of course, the media and social media were all over it. But notice that Florio omitted any reference to Article 2, the one right between Article 1 and Article 3. What does Article 2 say?
It says: “The authority and measures provided for in this entire Section 2 do not constitute a protest machinery for NFL clubs to avail themselves of in the event a dispute arises over the result of a game...The Commissioner will not apply authority in cases of complaints by clubs concerning judgmental errors or routine errors of omission by game officials. Games involving such complaints will continue to stand as completed.”
In other words, a bad call by the officiating crew, no matter how egregious, is not considered an extraordinary act and does not qualify for any type of intervention from the commissioner provided under Rule 17 Section 2. Period. End of story. The game is over. The results are final. Never mind the fact that the logistics of doing so would be ridiculous and near impossible. I like the work Mike Florio has done over the years. That might be an unpopular opinion. But the truth is, Florio did a disservice to Saints fans everywhere by giving them false hope when he published that article and omitted Section 2 either knowingly or by mistake.
Now that we’ve cleared up the Rule 17 myth, I would also like to discuss how ridiculous all of these conspiracy theories are. I think I’ve heard them all over the last few days: the NFL wants the Rams in the Super Bowl to build up their fan base, the NFL wants the Rams in the Super Bowl because they’re in a bigger market, the officials were from Los Angeles, Goodell still has it out for the Saints, yada yada yada. Some of you sound crazier than a drunk vagrant on Bourbon Street.
It’s amazing that so many people find it easier to believe there is some elaborate scheme involving multiple layers of collusion extending all the way from the NFL’s highest offices down to the officiating crew instead of the more logical and most-likely conclusion: that referees are human and the referees in the NFC Championship blew it. They just suck, that’s all.
Unfortunately, the referee standing at the goal line closest to the now-infamous play had a crappy angle. From his viewpoint, he thought the ball was closer than it was; he thought it was a bang-bang play. He immediately waived it off as incomplete. The second referee behind the play - who looked like he might throw the flag - didn’t have the guts to go against his partner’s initial decision despite possibly believing it was a penalty, and also waived it off. That’s all there is to it. Plain old human error.
Saints fans, you have every right to be angry about the officiating, to demand future rules changes so this never happens again, to make so much noise that the NFL is forced to listen. But it’s time to move on from the frivolity: from the silly lawsuits, the unfounded conspiracy theories, the false hopes of a re-match.