‘Absolutely not’: NFL’s Goodell never considered overturning Rams’ win over Saints

By Brooke Pryor

The Kansas City Star

ATLANTA NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell touched on a variety of topics Wednesday in his annual Super Bowl-week state of the league address.

It didn’t take long before he was asked about the no-call late in the Jan. 20 NFC Championship Game between the L.A. Rams and New Orleans Saints. A seemingly obvious pass-interference infraction was not whistled against the Rams, leading to renewed outcry over the league’s on-field rules and uneven enforcement.

“We understand the frustration of the fans,” Goodell said. “I’ve talked to (Saints coach) Sean Payton, the team, the players. We understand the frustration that they feel right now. We certainly want to address that. Whenever officiating is part of any kind of discussion postgame, it’s never a good outcome for us.”

Goodell said repeatedly during the session with reporters that the NFL addressed the officiating issue immediately following the game. He said the officials on the field, who in this case failed to make the call, are human.

But he also said that the league would look at using more instant replay to review close calls during games.

“Technology is not going to solve all of those issues,” he said. “The game is not officiated by robots and it’s not going to be. …

“The other complication is that it was a no call. Our coaches and clubs have been resistant about having a replay official or somebody in New York throw a flag when there’s no flag.”

Asked if he considered overturning the outcome of the NFC Championship Game, Goodell said, “Absolutely not.”

And asked what he said to Payton and team owner Gayle Benson after the game, Goodell would not elaborate.

“You know I never disclose my private conversations with anybody,” he said.

Here are some other highlights from Goodell’s address:

—Goodell was asked about the league’s relationship with Mexico after the November Chiefs-Rams game had to be moved to L.A. because of poor field conditions in Mexico City. “We were disappointed we weren’t able to play there this year, but I believe all of us did the right thing. “I believe we’re going to continue that relationship and grow the game of football in Mexico.” The Chiefs have been re-scheduled to play in Mexico next season against the L.A. Chargers.

—On Kareem Hunt, cut by the Chiefs after video surfaced of the running back shoving and kicking a woman in Cleveland: “Kareem Hunt, I think everyone knows, that issue is under investigation. He’s a free agent. If he’s signed by a club, clubs understand he’ll be on exempt list until the investigation is concluded. Hopefully that will be concluded soon.” Goodell said there has been “tremendous progress” in the investigation in the last “30 to 60 days.”

—On the lack of minority coaches and coordinators after this hiring cycle, Goodell said, “We don’t look at the success or failure of the Rooney rule in one year increments.”

—Why hasn’t free-agent quarterback Colin Kaepernick been signed? Goodell: “I think if a team decides that Kaepernick or any other player can help their team win, that’s what they’ll do.”

—Goodell asked about the future of the Raiders’ playing location. “It’s unfortunate that litigation was filed prior to their final season in Oakland. … I’m hopeful they get a resolution soon.” The hope is to be in the Bay Area next year, Goodell said. The Raiders move to Las Vegas for the 2020 season.

—Goodell said he hasn’t spoken with troubled New England Patriots receiver Josh Gordon since his last suspension. “He’s a young man that’s had a lot of challenges. … He’s working at it. He understands what he has to do. He understands the importance for him. This is beyond football. This is for his life.”

—On installing a permanent team in the UK: “The issue for us is still, ‘Can we do it competitively for the team that is based in London and the other 31 clubs.’ ” He also called China a “priority market” for the league.