Free publicity: New Orleans lawyer files suit to compel Saints and Rams to replay end of NFC title game

I’m rooting for him. If this suit prevails, it’ll open the door to a class action suit by Jets fans like me against Tom Brady for years of intentional infliction of emotional distress.

More seriously, I think we’re jusssssst about at the point now with Sunday’s fiasco where public opinion inevitably shifts from “Saints fans are right to be pissed off” to “Stop whining, you babies.”

Can’t knock a man for hustling when there’s an easy opportunity right in front of him to promote his business, though. (Law & Crime notes that Frank D’Amico, the attorney, advertises himself on his website as the, uh, “Strong Arm of the Law.”) Click this link to enlarge if you can’t read his statement at the size embedded below.

Per ESPN alum Darren Rovell, D’Amico’s seeking damages for, among other things, mental anguish and emotional trauma, “loss of enjoyment of life,” and … “loss of faith in the NFL.” Which is proof that this suit is headed nowhere: The public lost all faith in the NFL years ago.

He’s not the only lawyer threatening legal action against the NFL. A firm in Lafayette, Louisiana, also sent the NFL a letter yesterday. In both cases they’re pointing to Rule 17 as grounds for replaying the end of the game. I mentioned that rule in my own post about the game yesterday. Via NBC:

Consider Rule 17, Section 2, Article 1: “The Commissioner has the sole authority to investigate and take appropriate disciplinary and/or corrective measures if any club action, non-participant interference, or calamity occurs in an NFL game which the Commissioner deems so extraordinarily unfair or outside the accepted tactics encountered in professional football that such action has a major effect on the result of the game.”

Article 3 of the same rule identifies “reversal of a game’s result or the rescheduling of a game, either from the beginning or from the point at which the extraordinary act occurred,” as potential remedies available to the Commissioner. But the rule is obviously discretionary. Goodell can theoretically order a replay, he’s not required to order it.

And the rule isn’t open-ended. It would have been easy enough to draft a rule that broadly empowers the Commissioner to do something whenever the outcome of a game seems “extraordinarily unfair” or whatever. That’s not the rule we have. Goodell can act only in cases where the unfairness is caused by “club action, non-participant interference, or calamity.” A bad non-call doesn’t fit easily into any of those categories. The unfairness wasn’t primarily the result of “club action” by the Rams, i.e. the early hit on Tommylee Lewis by Nickell Robey-Coleman, it was the result of the refs’ negligence. Committing a penalty to prevent a sure score, which is how Robey-Coleman described his tactics, is occasionally part of the game. It’s on the officials to call the penalty. The non-call isn’t a “calamity” either, as that seems to me to point to some sort of natural or man-made disaster that disrupts the game. The best bet here is “non-participant interference” in the outcome, although that too sounds like a clause aimed at people who aren’t on the field. Imagine a fan using a mirror to reflect sunlight into the kicker’s eyes as he attempts the game-winning field goal.

As bad as Sunday’s refereeing was, missed calls aren’t extraordinary. Imagine a legal precedent in which fans could sue under Rule 17 every time an official’s dubious judgment affected the outcome of a game. Imagine Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh having to hash out which on-field garbage in an NFL game does and doesn’t amount to “extraordinary unfairness” as a matter of law in federal court sufficient to compel replaying the game. A blown call, even one that’s pure trash by everyone’s admission, just isn’t enough.

But it’s silly to analyze this even semi-seriously. It’s a publicity stunt! The lawyers probably don’t even have standing:

There’s no guarantee of anything when you buy a ticket except that you get to sit in that seat. If you’re watching a home, I assume there’s no guarantee of anything, period — not fair play, not a minimally competent officiating squad, nada. I wonder if anyone has standing to sue Goodell over this, frankly. Presumably the Saints do. Anyone else?

Here’s the lawyer, D’Amico, pleading his case. Exit question via journalist Molly Knight: “Is he gonna sue Drew Brees for the overtime interception?”