Super Bowl week is about to kick off, but no one is moving past the situation from the week prior, when the Rams-Saints game was decided by a blown call in which Nickell Robey-Coleman was , despite it being an obvious DPI call. In fact, "concern" is reportedly bubbling up about the NFL allowing multiple officials who live in Southern California to work the game.
Everyone agrees it should have been a flag. Replay clearly confirmed what happened. Sean Payton says the NFL told him the officials blew the call. Robey-Coleman even admitted it was pass interference. As a result,have been popping up, and overturn the outcome of the game.
That's not going to happen, but the NFL moving forward will not stop people from questioning what happened. According to Adam Schefter of ESPN, there is "concern around the NFL" about the manner in which the league handled the officiating assignments for the game.
Specifically, the league allowed four officials who live in Southern California to officiate the NFC Championship Game despite a team from Los Angeles playing in the game. Per Schefter, Saints officials and others are not worried the geography of the crew influenced the game. The concern instead exists because the NFL played it fast and loose with the situation and the optics involved.
But in a league constantly trying to safeguard the integrity of the game, there are some privately wondering how four officials with Southern California roots wound up officiating a conference championship game that involved a Los Angeles team.
There is a perception of bias that the league either ignored or was blind to when it assigned this crew to this game. It ultimately could wind up influencing officiating assignments in the future, according to a league source, to make sure a scenario like this does not happen again.
This has happened before. When the Broncos beat the Panthers in Super Bowl 50, and his wife was cheering on the Broncos during their victory over the heavily favored Panthers. In the 2012 regular season, when replacement officials were on the field, a Saints-Panthers official was pulled because he was just openly living his life as a Saints fan.
If you still haven't marked your calendar for the Super Bowl, the game will be kicking off from Atlanta on Feb. 3 and will be televised by CBS and you can stream it right here. If you're thinking about buying a new TV for the big game, CNET has you covered. They shared their best picks for every budget.
Does anyone think the officials from Southern Cal actually failed to call the pass interference penalty against the Rams because of their geographical allegiance to the Rams? No. Come on. Rich Eisen -- who works for the NFL -- had a pretty good take on that concept.
All the refs who supposedly blew the call in the NFC title game because they’re from SoCal sure took their time cultivating that caper, apparently waiting until the perfect moment with 108 seconds to go to let those Good Vibrations finally overtake their professionalism. #CmonMan— Rich Eisen (@richeisen) January 27, 2019
And after totally BirdBoxing the facemask call on Jared Goff, it had to start dawning on the SoCal refs about all those nasty stares they’d get from their neighbors while waiting to checkout at Whole Foods or Trader Joe’s. So when Brees threw towards Lewis, they pounced. #CmonMan— Rich Eisen (@richeisen) January 27, 2019
HAVING SAID ALL THAT: it's still a bad look for the NFL to have officials from the same region as one of the teams officiating a game that involves that team. The foremost thing the NFL should be looking for is the best officials possible for these games. And if the best officials are from Southern California for a Rams game, so be it. But maybe flip the AFC and NFC crews in that case?
This doesn't feel like quite as big a deal because it's the Rams. They're a "new" franchise in terms of being in Los Angeles, having moved back there just a few years ago after 20 years in St. Louis. And it's laughable to imagine anyone so passionately dedicated to the Los Angeles Rams that they're willing to alter the course of an NFL game in order to help the Rams out.
But flip the script here and imagine the reaction if the Rams had gotten hosed by a bad no-call while playing the Saints in Los Angeles with a crew of four officials who are all from New Orleans (or Shreveport or whatever). People would be outraged over the NFL not getting a group of Saints fans -- or people who grew up as Saints fans -- off the call for the Saints game.
"The NFL put [itself] in a bad situation," an officiating source told Schefter. "This is stuff that has to be taken care of prior to game. It's just guys not thinking of what's going on, nobody doing their checks and balances. The league is usually pretty much on top of it. This is one that slipped through the cracks."
Another high level source told Schefter "the optic is bad" with respect to the officials being from Los Angeles "It's a legit issue and they should have figured that out," the person said.
The league responded exactly how you would expect: "Officiating assignments are based on performance and not geographic location."
The irony of all this? Rams fans werebecause they had never won with him making the calls before. Bet they're glad that didn't work.