• Federal judge rejects ticketholders' arguments over blown Rams, Saints call in NFC championship

    By: Natalie Dreier, Cox Media Group National Content Desk

    Updated:

    UPDATE 3:50 p.m. Jan. 31: A federal judge has rejected a call by two New Orleans Saints ticketholders to force a do-over of the 2019 National Football Conference championship game.

    The Associated Press reported that season ticketholders Tommy Badeaux and Candis Lambert filed a suit two days after the Jan. 20 game. In the championship, The Los Angeles Rams beat the New Orleans Saints in overtime.

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    U.S. District Judge Susie Morgan rejected Lambert’s and Badeaux’s arguments that they were entitled to  a “write of mandamus,” which would force NFL to implement a rule to allow Commissioner Roger Googled to investigate “extraordinarily unfair acts.”

    “None of the actions Plaintiffs might seek to compel Commissioner Goodell to do are the kinds of actions a writ of mandamus may address,” the 17-page ruling said.

    A class-action suit on behalf of ticketholders is still pending in state court in New Orleans.

    Original report:

    In a Hail Mary move to get their team to the big game, two New Orleans Saints season ticket holders have petitioned the courts for a redo of the game that sent the Los Angeles Rams to the Super Bowl and the New Orleans Saints to sit and wait until next season. 

    But who should hear the case just days before the Super Bowl kicks off?

    The defendants in the case, the National Football League, wants the hearing on the federal court level. The plaintiffs want to be heard in state court, The Associated Press reported.

     

    The Saints fans said the NFL officials didn’t call interference or roughness penalties after a Rams player hit a Saints receiver with a helmet-to-helmet hit. The Rams won the game in overtime and will face the New England Patriots in the Super Bowl Sunday.

    The Saints ticket holders are asking the court to make NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell to use a league rule, Rule 17, that could reverse the game’s ending and a reschedule/replay of the championship game. The rule deals with “extraordinary unfair acts,” the AP reported.

    The NFL wants the case heard in federal court because it is a class action and that it could cost millions of dollars in damages for Saints fans.

    Attorneys for the ticket holders said that it doesn't’ specifically ask for money, but rather to force Goodell to use the rule to investigate the call, the AP reported

    An attorney for the NFL said the suit and the review are not needed since the league has already done “their due diligence.”

    “The NFL parties do not dispute that they have previously advised the Saints, including the club’s head coach that one or more penalties - for pass interference or illegal helmet-to-helmet contact - were mistakenly not called late in the NFC Championship Game, and that the NFL would like its officials on the field to make these calls,” the NFL’s legal filing states, the AP reported.

    Goodell added that the league doesn’t have the authority to change a referee’s ruling on the field, AP reported.

    Meanwhile ESPN reported that there is more controversy over the referee team that was in charge of the Rams/Saints game.

    The sports channel said that the four game officials all live in Southern California. 

    But league officials, who were not in charge of the game, as well as Saints officials, do not believe the referees’ ties to the area had an effect on the game.

    Referee Bill Vinovich, the head of the on-field crew, lives in Newport Beach. Down judge Patrick Turner lives in Lakewood. Side Judge Gary Cavaletto is from Santa Barbara. Back judge Todd Prukop lives in Mission Viejo, ESPN reported.

    A league spokesperson told ESPN, “Officiating assignments are based on performance and not geographic location.”

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