Scoot: Saints Travesty on Turf!

January 21, 2019 - 5:17 pm

The integrity of the NFL is under further review. Robberies are a sad reality in every city in America - New Orleans is no exception - but it’s not often when a robbery takes place with over 70,000 eyewitnesses and millions more watching live when it occurs. That was the case yesterday afternoon in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome when the Saints were robbed of a trip to the Super Bowl.

With under two minutes left and the score tied 20 - 20 in the NFC Championship game between the Saints and the L.A. Rams, the Saints had 3rd and 10 on the Rams’ 13-yard line. QB Drew Brees dropped back and lofted a pass to receiver Tommylee Lewis; but Rams defensive back Nickell Robey-Coleman literally accosted Lewis in what was one of the most obvious pass interference penalties in the history of the NFL. Everyone saw it; and the overwhelming consensus was that there was pass interference against the Rams, which would have given the Saints 1st and goal inside the 10-yard line.

With only one timeout remaining for the Rams, the Saints could have run the clock down and either tried to score a touchdown or kick a field goal with little time left for the Rams to tie the game. But the official right at the point of the infraction did not see the interference that was obvious to the great majority of the sports world. The non-call meant the Saints had to kick a field goal, which gave them the lead but left 1:41 left on the clock for the Rams.

The Rams took advantage and went down to kick a field goal, tying the score at 23. In overtime, the Rams’ 57-yard field goal won the game and sent the L.A. Rams to the Super Bowl in Atlanta.

It appeared that one official saw the penalty and was rushing over to confer with the other official, who appeared to wave him off as to say, “I’ve got this – there was NO penalty.” Why did the one official seem so reluctant to even have a conversation with the other official?

The non-call on that play was so obvious it lead to massive speculation across the country that the Saints were robbed of a trip to the Super Bowl. But why?

Did NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell set up a situation where the officials, or at least one, would favor the Rams whenever possible because the Rams going to the Super Bowl is more important to the league than the Saints going? Was a fix in place to boost the Rams back in L.A. and now with a new stadium being build?

Was Goodell also motivated to protect the Falcons and the larger market from the humiliation of the arch-rival Saints playing in a Super Bowl in their new home stadium in Atlanta?

These are all legitimate questions that remain unanswered. Immediately following the game, the NFL home office called Saints Coach Sean Payton to apologize and admit that there should have been a penalty called on that play. Was that apology a way to make the NFL feel cleansed knowing that the outcome of the game would not change?

This is not the first time suspicion has been raised about Roger Goodell’s biased against the New Orleans Saints. Simply put, the Saints going to the Super Bowl may have been deemed a greater problem than the Rams moving on to the game in Atlanta, plus the Rams in the Super Bowl might help sell tickets to Rams game in their new stadium. Goodell certainly realizes that the Saints have a loyal legion of fans that will not abandoned them, while the Rams need a boost that could be a greater asset to the league.

The disturbing reality is that the outcome of NFL games may be aided by a desire to service the rich owners, who elect the commissioner, and the integrity of the game for the fans is secondary.

I believe this is a tipping point for the NFL, and there will be a demand for an investigation that even the powerful NFL cannot suppress.

This could lead to a much greater call for a boycott of the NFL than the national anthem controversy; and if the integrity of the league is questioned, sponsors may join the boycott and ratings will suffer.

Who would watch NFL games knowing that the league office is allowing outcomes to be manipulated?


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