Head coach Sean Payton of the New Orleans Saints reacts after a no-call between Tommylee Lewis #11 of the Saints and Nickell Robey-Coleman #23 of the L.A. Rams during the 4th quarter in the NFC Championship game. (Chris Graythen/Getty)
NEW ORLEANS (AP) — A quest by two New Orleans Saints ticketholders to force a full or partial do-over of this year’s NFC championship game because of a blown “no-call” by game officials was rejected Thursday by a federal judge.
Officials failed to call interference or roughness penalties when a Rams player leveled a Saints receiver with a helmet-to-helmet hit at a crucial point in the final minutes of regulation time. The Rams won the Jan. 20 game in overtime and are set to play the New England Patriots in Sunday’s Super Bowl in Atlanta.
Fan reaction in New Orleans has included disbelief, anger and resignation, expressed in newspaper headlines, billboards (“They reffed up” said one), promises by some restaurants and bars that they won’t show the Super Bowl broadcast on Sunday, and posters of blind referees.
And at least two lawsuits. One is a class-action lawsuit on behalf of ticketholders, still pending in state court as of Thursday.
The other was filed by season ticketholders Tommy Badeaux and Candis Lambert. Filed two days after the game, it says the NFL should be forced to implement a rule allowing Commissioner Roger Goodell to investigate “extraordinarily unfair acts” that affect the game. Remedies under that rule include rescheduling the game in full, or from the point at which the unfair act occurred.
U.S. District Judge Susie Morgan rejected arguments that Badeaux and Lambert were entitled to an order, known as a “writ of mandamus,” forcing the NFL or Goodell to take action.
“None of the actions Plaintiffs might seek to compel Commissioner Goodell to do are the kinds of actions a writ of mandamus may address,” Morgan said in a 17-page ruling in which she detailed the extraordinary circumstances in which Louisiana law allows a writ of mandamus to be issued.
In the same ruling, she also rejected arguments that the case should be in state court in New Orleans, where it was originally filed.