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23 Jan, 2019 15:09

'Grossly unfair': NFL fans launch lawsuit after blown referee call 'costs team Super Bowl spot'

'Grossly unfair': NFL fans launch lawsuit after blown referee call 'costs team Super Bowl spot'

A hearing is scheduled for Monday in a case by two New Orleans Saints fans who are asking a judge to overturn the result of Sunday's controversial NFC Championship game after referees missed a blatant pass interference call.

The complaints stems from a late play in which Saints quarterback Drew Brees targeted receiver Tommylee Lewis with a late sideline throw, only for Los Angeles Rams defender Nickell Robey-Coleman to obstruct the receiver. 

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Had the penalty been awarded, it would have placed the Saints in position to wind the clock down to around 10 seconds before the opportunity to land a short-range field goal to win the game and advance to next month's Super Bowl.

Instead it went to overtime, where Rams kicker Greg Zuerlein nailed a 57-yard field goal to book his team's place in the NFL showcase game.

The rules dictate that a defending player must face the direction of the thrown ball in an attempt to fairly compete for it, however video evidence appeared to show Robey-Coleman ignored the flight of the ball and made direct contact with Lewis to impede his ability to make the catch.


"So what can the NFL do about the outcome of the Rams-Saints game? Probably nothing," complainant Frank D'Amico Jr. announced in a statement.

"Bad calls happen. Sometimes, bad calls have bigger consequences than others. Still, there's language in the rulebook that could, in the right circumstances, allow the commissioner to take extreme action in the face of a grossly unfair result."

The state court filing further states that NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell should enact a league rule concerning "extraordinarily unfair acts."

Rule 17, Section 2, Article 1, of the NFL guidelines states that Goodell, in his capacity as the league's 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."

The case appears to be doomed however, given further directives in the NFL rulebook which state: "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."

If the lawsuit proves successful though, the possibility exists to replay the game in full or from the moment of the controversial incident in the fourth quarter. 

The NFL hasn't yet responded to the lawsuit.

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