In back-to-back seasons, the New Orleans Saints have lost playoff games in the most excruciating fashion imaginable, but this time is different. Everyone who watched the Los Angeles Rams defeat the Saints on their home turf Sunday, in a bid for the NFC Championship and the resulting Super Bowl berth, believes that the referees missed one of the most important but obvious calls in NFL history.
What more does one need to see than the still image above? Even the Rams defensive back involved in the play, Nickell Robey-Coleman, emphatically admitted in the post-game that he got away with an obvious pass interference penalty — a penalty flag that would have set the Saints up with a first and goal situation, tied at 20-20 with under two minutes to play.
As a result, Louisiana lawyer Frank D’Amico Jr., who refers to himself on his firm’s website as “The Strong Arm of the Law,” has decided to file a civil lawsuit against the NFL for ruining the lives of one of the NFL’s most vibrant fanbases.
In a five-page complaint, D’Amico has demanded that a hearing occur before the Super Bowl. The attorney is apparently representing two Saints season-ticket holders, Tommy Badeaux and Candis Lambert. According to the New Orleans Advocate, D’Amico is suing the NFL and commissioner Roger Goodell for “Past, present and future mental anguish and emotional trauma,” “loss of enjoyment of life” and “distrust of the game which has become the National pastime.”
D’Amico said that the “impact of the non-call is egregious and demands recourse.” Badeaux and Lambert have lost their faith in the NFL, D’Amico said.
“As a direct result of the said incident, plaintiffs herein have been left bereft and with no faith in the National Football league for fairness despite the league’s own rules to correct such errors, along with emotional anguish, monetary loss for ticket holders, who purchases tickets with the presumption of integrity and fairness,” the lawsuit continued.
Despite all of this, however, Sports Illustrated legal analyst and University of New Hampshire Law Associate Dean Michael McCann pointed out that this lawsuit is essentially symbolic, and has little to no chance of succeeding in court, as a ticket holder has no right to a particular outcome.
Note to my @UNHLaw students: if "season ticket holders sue over a bad no call in an NFL game" is a fact-pattern that appears on my final exam in May, it would mean I'm asking you a really easy question. Don't fumble it. Text below explains why or read this https://t.co/GzqpW3NKAS pic.twitter.com/C5YD9JxOGH
— Michael McCann (@McCannSportsLaw) January 22, 2019
McCann did mention, however, that theoretically commissioner Goodell does have the power to “re-start a game from a point before an ‘extraordinarily unfair act’ occurred”:
The relevant language is found in Rule 17, which pertains to “emergencies” and “extraordinarily unfair acts.” Rule 17 refers to the commissioner possessing the “sole authority” to investigate whether a “calamity” occurs during a game and whether it is “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 [and] would be inequitable to one of the participating teams.” Under the rule, the commissioner can take any necessary corrective measure, including re-starting the game from the point of the incident or from the beginning.
[Image via YouTube screengrab]