Tommylee Lewis and Nickell Robey-Coleman

USA Today

Missed Call Is Even Worse Today

And it’s still a terrible look for the NFL.

January 22, 2019 - 10:41 am
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It’s Tuesday. We’re two days out from the NFC championship game and yet that missed call is still the biggest story in sports. And it’s still a terrible look for the NFL. It’s overshadowed two championship games going to overtime, two incredible stories in the Patriots and Rams, and is currently drowning out the build up to the Super Bowl itself.

Here’s that play, one more time, with feeling...

Seeing it and hearing it again two days later, it still bad. It’s actually even worse than it was the first day and yesterday. I mean, that bad!

No wonder you have PFT pointing out that the league’s rules do allow the commissioner to take extraordinary 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."

Allow me to read a little further: "The Commissioner's powers under this Section 2 include . . . The reversal of a game's result or the rescheduling of a game, either from the beginning or from the point at which the extraordinary act occurred."

In other words, Roger Goodell could theoretically order both teams back onto the field in the Superdome and restart the game from the moment that Nickell Robey-Coleman committed the pass interference that was not called.

Which is why Saints receiver Michael Thomas tweeted: “Rule 17 Section 2 Article 3 @NFL” with a broken heart emoji and a Saints logo

And then why he chased that with: “Hey Roger pick up the phone.”

I see you working, Mike. And I respect it, but you better know that Roger isn’t picking up that phone. That isn’t happening. I mean, it would be awesome if it did. I would be totally down for starting that game right back up again tomorrow night, but it’s not happening. Even though the commissioner has that power, he’s never going to use it. 

And yes, it wasn’t just that NRC committed pass interference and it wasn’t called, he committed it and admitted it, and it wasn’t called. I’m not sure that counts as a “calamity” in the rule book, but it’s as close as a missed call might come to being a calamity. 

And a day later, the Saints players weren’t feeling much better. Terron Armstead said: "I didn't know much about the rule, but I read it -- and it's in place. I mean I think our case would be the case to make the rule come to life."

I would agree. If you were ever going to use it for a situation that happened on the field, anything short of someone going Fan Man and flying onto the field mid-play, that was the play and that was the game to do it. But it wasn’t done, because it won’t be done.

And Armstead said the whole thing hurts: "I'm trying to stop crying, for real. Like a baby. Just thinking about everything in totality, just being so close to actually going to the Super Bowl. From somebody like me from a small town in Illinois, a small school, and I'm about to go to a Super Bowl? Man, that bleep is tough. It's like heartbreaking. We battled. We're all sore, hurting. And it was all for nothing. That bleep sucks. Most blatant call you'll ever see. It changes lives. We're not asking for a favor or anything, just make the call."

I don’t disagree with anything that he said there. They aren’t looking for a favor, they were just looking for the refs to do their job. And if your argument is that mistakes like that are part of the game, my response is: they shouldn’t be part of the game. The refs should be better. 

So the league isn’t going to re-start the game. But the Washington Post did report that the league is going to look at making pass interference reviewable. Well, more specifically, such a rule change will be “discussed at length along with additional fouls that coaches’ feel should be subject to review."

So that has to make you feel better, Saints fans, right? Nothing like a detailed discussion sometime after the fact to make you feel like justice was done. That’s really going to dull the pain of not getting a shot at the Super Bowl. 

Most Saints fans I know are going to watch the Super Bowl next Sunday and say, yeah, we could be in that game, but at least the league is going to have a meeting at some point about what happened. And that’s as good as a Super Bowl. 

Worse yet, you know how these conversations go. They’ll talk about it for a while and it will go one of two ways: they’ll decide to table it for another time. Because this isn’t the first time that someone has raised the issue of making PI reviewable. And there have been reasons that it was shot down in the past. 

Or they’ll come up with some convoluted rule that somehow makes it worse. Signed, the catch rule. 

I hate to say it, but when it comes to getting this right, I have about as much confidence that the league will get it right in a conference room as I have that the refs got it right on the field. Which is to say: none at all. 

If we do come out of this with a new review rule, that would be impressive. And if it’s a new review rule that actually works and that is actually an improvement that would be a miracle. But it’s still not going to take away what happened on Sunday. Nothing will. And to quote Terron Armstead: ‘that bleep is tough. That bleep sucks.’