Eyes wide shut

Kyle Riviere
Photo courtesy of USA Today.

Why do the football gods hate Louisiana?

What did we ever do to deserve the kind of heartaches we've received in the last year?

A little over a year ago, we were blindsided with the "Minneapolis Miracle." We thought nothing could ever get worse than that. But then it did.

During the college football season, there was the horrible Devin White targeting call that got him suspended for the first half of the Alabama game. Then there was the soul-crushing events that took place in College Station two days after Thanksgiving, when a game that looked won ended in a seven-overtime loss for LSU.

Now, this.

I don't have to tell you what "this" is. We all know by now. The whole world knows.

On Sunday, Jan. 20, 2019, just past 5 p.m. in the Superdome, an injustice occurred. Let me reword that. On that evening in the Superdome, the thousands of Saints fans in attendance and the millions of football fans watching around the world witnessed the worst blown call in NFL history.

On third and long, Drew Brees thew a pass to the sideline, trying to connect with a wide-open Tommylee Lewis. As the ball was in the air, Rams defensive back Nickell Robey-Coleman didn't just interfere with Lewis, he completely trucked him.

He walloped Lewis helmet to helmet and put him on his backside. All the while, he never even attempted to look back at the ball.

Two referees stood on the sideline watching the play. They were in perfect position to make a call that a blind 9-year-old Norwegian boy that has never watched American football in his life could have made.

They looked at each other and gutlessly decided to keep the whistles away from their mouths and their hands away from their flags.

As a result, a ridiculously blatant foul was excused. A penalty that would have all but guaranteed the Saints a victory was never called. The Saints were robbed.

Those referees should be ashamed of themselves. The NFL should be ashamed of itself.

Rams head coach Sean McVay, who has decided to insult our intelligence and say it was a "bang-bang" play should be ashamed of himself.

No matter what happens in the Super Bowl, it is tainted. If the Patriots win, they beat a team that didn't deserve to be in the game in the first place. If the Rams win, then they are paper champions. Then this whole season was a waste of time and a fraud.

It's bad enough to miss such an egregious call. It is absolutely unacceptable to blow it in the NFC Championship, at that juncture of the game. It's downright heinous.

I don't believe the NFL is rigged. I think that idea is utterly ridiculous, but this is the kind of ineptitude that gives fuel to those kooky conspiracy theorists.

Sean Payton said that after the game, someone from the NFL contacted him and said they "messed up." He was told it should have not only been pass interference, but also helmet-to-helmet contact.

Gee, thanks, NFL. You know, that kind of common sense would have come in handy an hour earlier.

But other than Payton relaying the details of a phone conversation he had with a representative of the NFL, the league has been silent. That silence is deafening, and it is an absolute embarrassment.

Hey, Roger, why don't you get off your butt and do what you're getting paid more than $30 million a year to do? Get in front of a microphone and fall on your sword. Take some responsibility.

Your referees, the guys your league is too cheap to make full-time employees, blew a call junior-high officials would have made. It cost a team a trip to the Super Bowl. Now say something. Anything.

The idea of starting the game up where the penalty occurred or forcing a rematch is over the top, but say something. Your silence gives the impression that you're scared, or you just don't care.

Judging by your actions in the past, I'm leaning more toward the latter.

Meanwhile, it's time for Saints fans to face reality. We'll never get over this one. The only way is if we win the Super Bowl next year, and that seems unlikely.

This is worse than the Minneapolis Miracle; it's worse than the loss to the 49ers in 2012.

Everything was set up perfectly. The Saints were the No. 1 seed and hosting the NFC Championship game. They were less than two minutes away from the Super Bowl.

And then the referees pulled the rug out from under them, and they fell flat on their face.

What stings the most is that I truly believe the Saints were the best team in the NFL. I truly believe they would have beaten the Patriots in the Super Bowl.

But now, thanks to the ineptitude of the NFL, we'll never know. Once again, Saints fans will be forced to ask "what if."

Shame on you, NFL.