Saints fans filed a lawsuit two days after the controversial ending to the NFC Championship Game in which Nickell Robey-Coleman collided with wide receiver Tommylee Lewis late in the fourth quarter in what appeared to be a critical non-call of pass interference.
On Thursday, U.S. District Judge Susie Morgan rejected an appeal by two Saints season ticket holders to force the NFL to take action for the non-call, which the fans had hoped could force NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell to overturn the result of the game, potentially resulting in the teams re-playing some, or all of the NFC Championship Game.
In the ruling Judge Morgan outlined her opinion that the “writ of mandamus” the fans hoped to get was not applicable to the end of he game.
“None of the actions Plaintiffs might seek to compel Commissioner Goodell to do are the kinds of actions a writ of mandamus may address.”
Typically a writ of mandamus is intended to overthrow problems in the justice system, usually addressed to lower courts. In this instance it was invoked in an attempted to force a private entity to overthrow a perceived miscarriage of justice under the guise of serving the public’s best interest.
In addition, Judge Morgan refused a motion to have the case heard exclusively in state court in New Orleans.
“We understand the frustration that they feel right now,” Goodell said of the Saints and their fans. “We certainly want to address that. Whenever officiating is part of any kind of discussion postgame, it’s never a good outcome for us. We know that. Our clubs know that. Our officials know that. But we also know our officials are human.”
Saints fans bought billboards in Atlanta in protest of the NFL following the missed call, with local bars electing to either ignore the game on Sunday, or host “anti-Super Bowl parties” as a result of the non-call.
There remains one outstanding lawsuit filed as a class action by Saints’ season ticket holders, which has yet to be heard by the courts. It’s unlikely that will be heard before the Super Bowl on Sunday, or settled for some time.