The New Orleans Saints lost the NFC Championship Game Sunday to the Los Angeles Rams, and the game turned on what most observers called an egregious error by the officials near the end of regulation. In the fourth quarter, Los Angeles cornerback Nickell Robey-Coleman appeared to commit a pass interference penalty against Saints receiver Tommylee Lewis that was not called.
The incident has led the NFL, per ESPN, to consider changing the rules as to what calls can and can’t be reviewed by in-game replay. But in the meantime, fans and other supporters of the Saints are taking unusual measures in response to the call.
According to WDSU in New Orleans, a businessman in the area has purchased billboards in Atlanta, where the Super Bowl is being played, with messages like “Saints Got Robbed” and “NFL Bleux It.” Matt Bowers, a New Orleans area car dealership owner, bought 10 billboards, including one near the Atlanta stadium where the game will take place.
Saints fans are also taking to the courts. A New Orleans attorney named Frank D’Amico Jr., according to Fox 8 in New Orleans, says he has filed a lawsuit asking the NFL to force a replay of the game, citing an NFL rule allowing the commissioner power to take “disciplinary and/or corrective measures if any club actions, non-participant interference, or calamity occurs in an NFL game which the commissioner deems so extraordinary unfair or outside the accepted tactics encountered in professional football that such action has a major effect on the result of the game.”
There is no precedent in NFL history for a commissioner overturning the result of a game or forcing a replay. Even so, there’s also an online petition at Change.org with over 587,000 signatures as of Tuesday, asking the NFL to replay the game on January 27.
Matt Bowers, a diehard Saints fans who owns car dealerships throughout the southeast, has rented billboards in seven locations in and around Atlanta with 16 placements to voice his displeasure with the NFL. “And I’m not done yet,” he told ESPN. pic.twitter.com/ZHh0un2Xie— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) January 22, 2019
There’s also speculation, per reporter Darren Rovell, that gamblers could seek to sue the league due to lost winnings connected to the call. This is the first year that betting on sports has been widely legal in the U.S., but there have been no reports as of yet of such a lawsuit. One sports betting outfit in New Jersey, however, has agreed to refund bets related to the call in the Rams-Saints game, per NOLA.com.
Despite all of those efforts, it’s highly unlikely for any outcome to reverse the result of Sunday’s game, and the Rams will be playing the Patriots in Super Bowl LIII on February 3.