The NFL took plenty of heat for the controversial non-call in the NFC Championship Game. You can bet that commissioner Roger Goodell took most of it.
There was a lawsuit from fans asking for personal damages. There was even a call for Goodell to reverse the outcome of the game.
Goodell addressed the situation in a personal letter to Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards. In it, he said he understands Edwards’ disappointment as well as “the disappointment and frustration of Saints fans throughout the country, over the outcome of the NFC Championship Game.”
Goodell goes on to confirm that Sean Payton was told immediately following the game that a penalty should have been called on Rams cornerback Nickell Robey-Coleman. He said he expressed the same sentiment to Payton and owner Gayle Benson, but added that he could not have changed the result of the game.
“Our rules do not permit the Commissioner to overturn the result of a game because of an officiating error, and I believe that it would be wrong for me to do so. Nor have the clubs supported an expansion of replay to review decisions by game officials to call, or not to call, a penalty on the field. That said, I agree that it is incumbent on us to review this issue closely to determine if there are changes in our rules or procedures that would prevent a similar occurrence in the future.
“While there will always be mistakes in any game played, coached, and officiated by humans, we do not want officiating to be the topic of discussion after any game.”
You can see the full letter below or read it here.
— Marcus Mosher (@Marcus_Mosher) February 11, 2019
Goodell’s letter probably won’t do much to alleviate the anger from Saints fans about what happened. That is going to be there for a long time.
However, the fact he even wrote it in the first place shows that the commissioner was acutely aware of the fallout of the officiating error.