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Roger Goodell: NFL will look at replay system following Saints controversy


NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said Wednesday that the league will look at expanding its use of instant replay during the offseason following a controversial missed call that has threatened to overshadow this weekend's Super Bowl.

Goodell fielded numerous questions at a press conference in Atlanta about the outcome of the Jan. 20 NFC Championship game, which ended in controversy after officials failed to call a penalty that could have changed the results of the game.

While Goodell acknowledged the missed call and fury among supporters of the New Orleans Saints, who lost the game, he was non-committal on the possibility that the outcry would lead to substantive change.

“We will look again at instant replay," Goodell said, referring to the league's competition committee. "There have been a variety of proposals over the last 15-20 years of should replay be expanded. It does not cover judgment calls. This was a judgment call."

He noted that no flag was thrown during the play in question during the game between the Saints and Los Angeles Rams earlier this month, and that league owners have long opposed giving replay officials the ability to assess penalties upon review.

"That’s what the committee has to look at," he said. "What are the solutions, what are the unintended consequences, and come up with something we think can keep the competitive nature of our game, but also improve officiating."

Goodell said adding an extra official to crews for each game would not solve the problems raised by the missed call, noting that the human element is part of the sport.

Conversation surrounding the league’s marquee event this weekend has been dominated by the controversy over a missed call in the NFC Championship game, which Saints fans and Louisiana politicians have insisted cost the team a trip to the Super Bowl.

Officials did not throw a flag on the Rams for an apparent pass interference and helmet-to-helmet hit in the waning minutes of the game. Had officials assessed a penalty, the Saints could have been able to run down the clock and attempt to win the game in regulation.

Instead, the Rams won in overtime and advanced to the Super Bowl, where they will face the New England Patriots on Sunday.

Goodell said Wednesday that he never considered calls from some Saints fans to overturn the result of the game.

“That was not a consideration,” he said.

Politicians and Saints owner Gayle Benson have called for the league to examine its replay policies, how it assesses penalties and how it reviews referee performance.

The outrage made its way onto the Senate floor last week when Sen. Bill Cassidy (R-La.) railed against “the most blatant and consequential blown call in NFL history.”

Rep. Cedric Richmond (D-La.) has suggested Goodell appear before the House Judiciary Antitrust Subcommittee to field questions about the missed call.

Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards (D) joined a host of Saints fans earlier this week when he said he planned to boycott the Super Bowl out of lingering resentment over the call.

"Whenever an officiating is part of any kind of discussion post game, it’s never a good outcome for us," Goodell said. "We know that, our clubs know that, our officials know that. But we also know that our officials are human, and they’re officiating a game that moves very quickly and have to make snap decision under difficult circumstances and they're not going to get it right every time."

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