Fans File Blown-Call Lawsuit Seeking Do-Over of Rams-Saints Game

In the legal equivalent of a Hail Mary pass, two New Orleans Saints season ticket holders asked a judge on Tuesday to order the NFL commissioner to reverse the results of the NFC championship game that sent the Los Angeles Rams to the Super Bowl, or schedule a do-over.

Their lawsuit, filed in state court, says Commissioner Roger Goodell should implement a league rule governing “extraordinarily unfair acts.” Remedies include reversal of a game’s result or the rescheduling of a game — in its entirety or from the point when the act occurred.

At issue is the failure of officials to call interference or roughness penalties when a Rams player leveled a Saints receiver with a helmet-to-helmet hit at a crucial point in Sunday’s game. The NFL hasn’t yet responded. A hearing is tentatively set for Monday — six days before the Rams meet the New England Patriots in the Super Bowl in Atlanta.

“Why is the rule there if it’s not going to be implemented?” asked attorney Frank D’Amico, who filed the suit in state Civil District Court in New Orleans on behalf of Tommy Badeaux and Candis Lambert.

No penalty was called after the Rams’ Nickell Robey-Coleman hit Saints receiver Tommylee Lewis while a pass was in the air with less than two minutes to go in regulation on Sunday. A flag would have meant a first down for the Saints, who could have run down the clock and won the game with a field goal. Instead, the Saints kicked a go-ahead field goal with 1:41 left. The Rams came back to tie with a field goal before winning in overtime.

There appears to be no dispute that a penalty should have been called. Robey-Coleman later said he expected a flag. Saints coach Sean Payton said the NFL office acknowledged the error to him after the game.

The question is whether an officiating mistake — even an egregious one — is the type of “club action, non-participant interference, or calamity” that merits the remedy D’Amico’s clients seek.

Mike Pereira is among the doubters.

“I understand the frustration,” the former vice president of officiating for the NFL, now a Fox Sports analyst, said in an interview. But, he doesn’t believe the rule applies in this case.

Louisiana’s governor has also chastised the NFL about officiating in the NFC championship game that sent the Los Angeles Rams to the Super Bowl instead of the New Orleans Saints.

Gov. John Bel Edwards sent a letter Tuesday to NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell to express the “deep disappointment” of the people of Louisiana and Saints fans.

The Democratic governor complained about the failure of officials to call interference or roughness penalties when a Rams player leveled a Saints receiver with a helmet-to-helmet hit near the end of Sunday’s game.

“The very least that any fan of the Saints, or any other team, should be able to expect from any game is that the result will be decided by the players on the field,” Edwards wrote. “By missing the obvious, blatant and intentional penalty at the end of the game, the referees in Sunday’s game undermined that expectation and unfortunately were allowed to determine the winner.”

Edwards is calling on the NFL to make rule changes for next season that would allow for expanding replay reviews. He said without such adjustments, “the very integrity of the game will be called into question.”

And the governor told Goodell that while Louisiana football fans will move past the game, “we will not forget it.”