In a Hail Mary move, a New Orleans attorney filed a lawsuit Tuesday to get the NFL to address a blown pass-interference call at the end of the NFC Championship game in which the Saints lost to the LA Rams.
Frank D’Amico Jr. filed the suit with the Civil District Court of Orleans Parish on behalf of Saints season-ticket holders, saying NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell has the power to put time back on the clock and allow the game to resume.
The Saints appeared to have the game in hand near the end of regulation when Rams cornerback Nickell Robey-Coleman delivered a helmet-to-helmet haymaker to Saints receiver Tommylee Lewis before the ball arrived.
If the penalty had been called, the Saints would likely have won the game. Instead, they lost in overtime 26-23.
“It’s a judgment call by the officials. I personally have not seen the play,” referee Bill Vinovich said after the blatant pass interference seen around the globe.
D’Amico is asking the NFL to enforce Rule 17, Section 2, Article 1 in the NFL Rulebook that he says “could, in the right circumstances, allow the commissioner to take extreme action in the face of a grossly unfair result,” according to WDSU in Louisiana.
The lawyer issued a press release that apparently copied and pasted extensively from a Pro Football Talk article on the matter.
“Even though Rams defensive back Nickell Robey-Coleman admits that he opted to wipe out Saints receiver Tommylee Lewis because Robey-Coleman believed he’d been beaten for touchdown, it’s hard not to imagine this being the kind of ‘extraordinarily unfair’ act that would have a major effect on the outcome of the game,” he wrote.
“Then again, the rule is there for a reason; if ever it would be invoked, wouldn’t now be the time to do it? And here’s where it gets even juicier, Consider Rule 17, Article 3: ‘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,’” he continued.
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“Basically, the Commissioner has the power to turn back time to the spot of the penalty that wasn’t called, put the teams back on the field from that point in the game, give the Saints first-and-goal at the spot of the foul, put 1:49 on the clock, and let the game proceed, tied at 20, with the Rams having one timeout left.
“It isn’t inconceivable that it would happen, but even if it is, then why does the rulebook even allow for this type of an approach?
“And maybe that’s why the league is wrestling with the language of its expected statement acknowledging the error. Maybe the league realizes that, depending on the specific words chosen, the door to a Rule 17 proceeding could inadvertently be kicked open.”
A Lafayette law firm separately has informed the NFL that litigation over the game’s outcome may be imminent.
“At present, a large asterisk sits next to the title NFC champions. Allowing the status quo to stand is a ‘black eye’ on the history and integrity of the game which you have been entrusted to preserve and protect,” a joint statement from the attorneys said, according to WDSU.
D’Amico acknowledged that the NFL could probably do nothing about the blown call.
“Bad calls happen. Sometimes, bad calls have bigger consequences than others,” he said in a statement Tuesday.