Roger Goodell is breaking his silence after the NFC Championship game – in a way.
The NFL Commissioner filed a legal brief Sunday asking the U.S. District Court Eastern District of Louisiana to dismiss a lawsuit by New Orleans Saints season ticket holders following the controversial no-call. Both sides are set to appear at a hearing at noon Monday.
In the brief, Goodell writes that the NFL acknowledges that one or more penalties for pass interference or illegal helmet-to-helmet were not called late in the NFC Championship game.
“Because the officials on the field are humans, like the players and coaches, errors will happen,” the brief says.
However, Goodell argues that overruling a referee on the field does not fall within the NFL Commissioner’s discretion. Goodell points to Rule 15, Section 1, Article 3 which says the following:
“The Referee’s decisions upon all matters not specifically placed under the jurisdiction of other officials by rule are final.”
Goodell argues that because of Rule 15’s finality, then Rule 17 cannot be applied.
The brief also argues that ticketholders or fans do not have the rights to ask a court to order the commissioner to act on an officiating omission.
“2019 will mark the NFL’s centennial season. Throughout that time, one constant is that the results of a game are conclusive and not subject to protest or challenge,” the documents say. “To our knowledge, no game has ever been replayed. This has been true despite war, depression, natural disasters, civil disorder, terrorism, or pandemic. And it has certainly been true notwithstanding errors in the enforcement of playing rules or even the deliberate evasion of those rules.”
Last week, the NFL said in a separate court filing that redoing the NFC title game between the Rams and Saints would mean a pricey delay of the upcoming Super Bowl.
NFL Chief Financial Officer Joseph Siclare said replaying even a few minutes of the NFC championship game because of a missed passed interference call would force a delay for an event that demands an investment of “more than $100 million,” the New Orleans Advocate reported.