By Paulina Dedaj
Published January 26, 2019
A rematch of last weekend’s NFC Championship Game due to bad call could cost the league millions, the NFL said Friday.
NFL Chief Financial Officer Joseph Siclare said in a sworn affidavit that replaying the final minutes of last Sunday’s game between the Los Angeles Rams and the New Orleans Saints because of a bad call could cost the NFL “more than $100 million” because it could mean delaying Super Bowl LIII.
No penalty was called after Rams defensive back Nickell Robey-Coleman hit Saints receiver Tommylee Lewis while a Drew Brees pass was in the air with less than two minutes remaining in the game. A flag for pass interference would have given the Saints a first down and a chance to run down the clock before kicking a potential game-winning field goal.
Instead, the Saints were forced to kick the field goal sooner, and returned possession to the Rams -- giving Los Angeles enough time on the clock to tie the game again and force it into overtime, where the Rams won.
Siclare’s affidavit was the league’s first response to a lawsuit filed by two Saints season-ticket holders asking a state court judge to order Commissioner Roger Goodell to either reverse the game’s result or reschedule the game from the point of the no-call -- or replay the game in its entirety.
The filings are also an attempt to move the case from state court to federal court – giving the league a fairer chance.
The NFL cited a federal law that allows a defendant to automatically remove a state class-action lawsuit to federal court when the parties are from different states and the amount of the damages sought by the plaintiffs exceeds $5 million.
Siclare’s affidavit addresses the plaintiffs' demand to issue full refunds to the more than 72,000 ticket holders. He says this would cost the league an estimated $16 million, well beyond the threshold required to move the lawsuit to the federal court.
Replaying the game, and delaying the Super Bowl, would be even more costly, Siclare said.
"The Super Bowl, the NFL's premier event, is a carefully planned and enormously expensive undertaking, with preparations carefully sequenced," from logistics to producing a "full-blown music concert at halftime," Siclare wrote.
Aside from the legal filings, the NFL has not publically addressed last Sunday’s game. It say Friday that it had fined Robey-Coleman $26,739 for his helmet-to-helmet hit on Lewis — a second infraction that went unflagged on the same play.