In a statement released after the most devastating loss in New Orleans Saints history, owner Gayle Benson said she will “aggressively pursue changes in NFL policies to ensure no team and fan base is ever put in a similar position again.”
Benson is speaking about the pass interference no-call at the end of the game that impacted the Saints strategy to win in regulation.
Benson’s addressed the play and her intentions in her statement:
No team should ever be denied the opportunity to reach the title game (or simply win a game) based on the actions, or inactions, of those charged with creating a fair and equitable playing field. As is clear to all who watched the game, it is undeniable that our team and fans were unfairly deprived of that opportunity yesterday. I have been in touch with the NFL regarding yesterdayâ€™s events and will aggressively pursue changes in NFL policies to ensure no team and fan base is ever put in a similar position again. It is a disservice to our coaches, players, employees and, most importantly, the fans who make our game possible. The NFL must always commit to providing the most basic of expectations — fairness and integrity.
Benson didn’t specifically mention a call or an official, but we don’t have to read too far between the lines.
The “fairness and integrity” sentence could be inflammatory as one could interpret her calling an official’s honesty into question, but I don’t expect the league to issue a fine.
What is interesting about this statement is that Saints coach Sean Payton is a member of the Competition Committee. I am sure when they meet next month, the committee will let him have the floor for a long time and let him offer plenty of options with the NFC Championship game in mind.
The committee has looked at penalty reviews in the past, and has so far resisted the push to add them to the rules (2018, 2017, 2016, 2015). I fully expect the NFL to consider making pass interference a reviewable judgement call — whether it comes from the committee or from a team proposal — when the owners consider rule changes for 2019, and that change will be strongly supported by Benson and Payton.
Photo: Michael C. Hebert/New Orleans Saints