NEW ORLEANS — Redoing last weekend’s controversial NFC title game between the Los Angeles Rams and New Orleans Saints would mean a pricey delay of the upcoming Super Bowl, the NFL said Friday.
In a legal filing, NFL Chief Financial Officer Joseph Siclare said replaying even a few minutes of the NFC championship game because of a missed passed interference call would force a delay for an event that demands an investment of “more than $100 million,” the New Orleans Advocate reported .
Siclare’s sworn affidavit was submitted by the NFL to get one of two pending lawsuits over officiating moved from state civil court to New Orleans federal court.
The filing marks the league’s first formal response to a lawsuit by a pair of ticket-holders over the infamous “no call” that ended the Saints’ Super Bowl run last Sunday.
The league 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.
According to Siclare, a demand by the plaintiffs for the league to issue full refunds to 72,475 ticket holders well exceeds that benchmark on its own, as the average ticket price for the game hovered around $230. That adds up to more than $16 million in ticket proceeds.
But the far bigger cost, Siclare suggested, would be if the Feb. 3 Super Bowl is delayed by a court in order to rewind the clock and replay all or a portion of the NFC title game— a result urged by the plaintiffs and much of “Who Dat Nation,” which is also listed as a plaintiff.
“The Super Bowl, the NFL’s premiere 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.
While the NFL has remained publicly silent about the controversial no-call, the league said Friday it had fined Rams defensive back Nickell Robey-Coleman $26,739 for his helmet-to-helmet hit on Saints receiver Tommylee Lewis — a second infraction that went unflagged on the same play.
Saints head coach Sean Payton has said a league official admitted to him immediately after the game that both penalties should have been called on the play.
Meanwhile, a hearing sought by the two plaintiffs in the lawsuit, Tommy Badeux and Candis Lambert, that was scheduled for Monday was declared moot by Friday’s filing.
It’s no surprise that the NFL would seek to take the case out of the hands of a local New Orleans judge in favor of a federal jurist, said local attorney Glenn McGovern.
“There’s a perception by some people that federal court is fairer than state court,” McGovern said. “All big corporations feel more comfortable in federal court than state court.”