The NBC affiliate in New Orleans reported Tuesday that a local attorney named Frank D’Amico was the first to get in line with a lawsuit filed against the NFL over the outcome of Sunday’s NFC title game between the Saints and Rams. Specifically, D’Amico is asking Commissioner Roger Goodell to invoke a rule that allows him to “to take extreme action in the face of a grossly unfair result” because of the missed pass interference call late in regulation. (It didn’t help the credibility of the suit that parts of the statement he released were lifted verbatim from a Pro Football Talk item, but that’s a story for another day).
The suit asks that the teams be called back to the field, with the Saints given first-and-goal with 1:49 left. While this is almost certainly going to generate nothing more than publicity, it brought to mind a bigger question I posed on Twitter: If you could file a lawsuit to overturn the outcome of ONE specific injustice in ONE game in Minnesota sports history, what would it be?
The three most popular answers related to: 1) Joe Mauer’s double that was ruled a foul ball by umpire Phil Cuzzi in the 2009 ALDS; 2) the Vikings/Saints NFC title game in 2009; 3) Vikings vs. Cowboys in the 1975 playoffs, otherwise known as the Drew Pearson game.
On the first one: The call was horrendous, but it probably didn’t change the outcome of the series. The Twins were already down 1-0 in the ALDS. With the teams tied 3-3 in the top of the 11th in Game 2, Mauer ended up getting a single anyway after the botched call. The Twins loaded the bases with no outs … but didn’t score. Mark Teixeira hit a walk-off homer to lead off the bottom half.
Don’t waste your litigation. Even if the Twins would have won that game — which they had plenty of chances to do anyway — the Yankees would have closed things out eventually.
On the second one: The whole Bountygate Scandal wasn’t fleshed out until two years after the NFC title game. The Saints benefited from a defensive holding penalty on third down in overtime to extend their game-winning drive, but really the Vikings did more to beat themselves that day than the Saints or any referee.
On the third one: This is the strongest parallel to what happened Sunday. Change that one play — and call what most Vikings fans would insist is offensive pass interference on Pearson for pushing Nate Wright — and Minnesota almost certainly wins the game, just as the Saints almost certainly would have won Sunday.
Dallas went on to destroy the Rams in the NFC title game, and it stands to reason the Vikings would have as well. The Cowboys did, however, lose to Pittsburgh in the Super Bowl. You’d have to have some very purple-colored glasses to insist the Vikings would have won it all against the Steelers, seeing as how they lost 16-6 to them in the Super Bowl the year before.
A very sneaky good challenger offered by two readers, Jayne and Eric: Game 5 of the 2016 WNBA Finals, Los Angeles scored the go-ahead basket with 1:14 remaining on a play that should not have counted because the shot clock expired. The Sparks went on to defeat the Lynx 77-76, and the WNBA admitted its mistake.
And perhaps the most hilarious answer from @OmeletFan: “We should be able to sue the Timberwolves to overturn the 2009 draft.” That, of course, is when Minnesota had the No. 5 and No. 6 picks and chose two point guards — neither of whom was Steph Curry, who was taken No. 7 by Golden State.
I don’t know if legal action could have prevented that. But I do know that draft, Cuzzi and Saints/Vikings all happening within about a seven-month span of each other has left a mark on the collective sports psyche of this state.
Maybe we need a time machine instead of simple litigation?