NFL facing questions about four Saints-Rams officials being from LA area
The way the NFC Championship Game played out was a nightmare from the NFL from an officiating standpoint, and apparently the issues surrounding the controversial no-call run deeper than initially believed.
ESPN’s Adam Schefter reported on Sunday that people in NFL circles have expressed concern about the NFL’s judgment after the league allowed four officials who reside in Southern California to work a game that featured the Los Angeles Rams. The four officials, all of whom have lived in the LA area for a significant period of time, were the ones “most responsible” for letting Rams cornerback Nickell Robey-Coleman’s blatant pass interference penalty slide, according to Schefter.
The Saints and the other officials who were working the game do not believe where the four officials reside had anything to do with their mistakes or the outcome of the game. Both teams were aware of the official assignments in advance of the matchup, and neither side expressed concern.
But as one source told Schefter, the topic has become enough of an issue that the NFL will likely try to avoid a similar situation going forward.
“The NFL put [itself] in a bad situation,” the source said. “This is stuff that has to be taken care of prior to game. It’s just guys not thinking of what’s going on, nobody doing their checks and balances. The league is usually pretty much on top of it. This is one that slipped through the cracks.”
Bill Vinovich, the lead official from the NFC Championship Game, lives in Newport Beach, Calif. Interestingly enough, the Rams had gone 0-8 in games he had officiated since 2012 prior to last Sunday’s. That inspired LA fans to start a petition asking that he be removed from the crew.
An NFL spokesperson said Sunday that “officiating assignments are based on performance and not geographic location.” While the blown pass interference call was one of the most egregious no-calls in NFL history, it should also be noted that the crew missed multiple calls that hurt the Saints and helped the Rams.