One of the most controversial endings in NFC Championship Game history has sprung one of the NFL's most passionate fanbases into full-sprung action.
An online petition on Change.org, started by Mississippi resident Terry Cassreino, calling for a rematch of Sunday's title game on Jan. 27 is nearing a half-million signatures, having collected more than 460,000 as of 9 p.m. Monday night.
"Refs missed a blatant pass interference call against the Los Angeles Rams late in fourth quarter of Jan. 20 NFC Championship game, possibly costing New Orleans Saints a trip to the SuperBowl," Cassreino wrote on the petition, referring to the controversial no-call by Rams cornerback Nickell Robey-Coleman on the Saints' Tommylee Lewis -- one that Robey-Coleman himself makes no effort to hide was blatantly a P.I. call.
"Due to refs’ inability to properly officiate at the game, we the undersigned want a re-match against L.A. on Sunday, Jan. 27. It’s the only fair solution to this travesty of epic proportions."
Cassreino, a journalism teacher at St. Joseph Catholic School in Madison, Miss., started the petition last night and shared it on Facebook. The response was immediately overwhelming, to his surprise.
"The way the game ended was so disappointing and so frustrating," Cassreino told the Mississippi Clarion-Ledger. "I was just looking for something to do and I thought I would put together a petition to change that order, not that I expected anything to happen from it."
It's inconceivable that this would happen. But as Mike Florio points out on Pro Football Talk, in theory NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell would have the power to do this:
Consider Rule 17, Section 2, Article 1: “The Commissioner has the sole authority to investigate and take appropriate disciplinary and/or corrective 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.”
Even though Rams defensive back Nickell Robey-Coleman admits that he opted to wipe out Saints receiver Tommylee Lewis because Robey-Coleman believed he’d been beaten for a touchdown, it’s hard to imagine this being the kind of “extraordinarily unfair” act that would have a major effect on the outcome of the game. Then again, the rule is there for a reason; if ever it would be invoked, wouldn’t now be the time to do it?
And here’s where it gets even juicier. Consider Rule 17, Section 2, Article 3: “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.”
Basically, the Commissioner has the power to turn back time to the spot of the penalty that wasn’t called, put the teams back on the field from that point in the game, give the Saints first and goal at the spot of the foul, put 1:49 on the clock, and let the game proceed, tied at 20, with the Rams having one time out left.
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