For Saints fans, Jan. 20, is a date that will live in infamy. To say that the events that transpired in the Superdome on Jan. 20 at the NFC Championship have traumatized the city of New Orleans and its inhabitants is certainly an understatement. It has paralyzed our psyche in a way that only a true Saints fan can understand.
Since you’re thinking it, I am not here to allege collusion or even conspiracy. Instead, I think it was the result of massive human stupidity and a staggering lack of leadership.
Regardless of what you want to call it — an injustice, an accident, a gross error in judgment or a no-call — it happened. I don't know why the official didn't make the call. The best, rational answer I can come up with is that he just froze at the end of a close game. That happens periodically.
The fact of the matter is that there is only one constant in human history, and it is human stupidity. So you have to plan for it. You have to be able to adjust. Let’s just restate the obvious — that didn’t happen. That’s why rules like the one the NFL has exists.
The real tragedy of this whole thing is the breathtaking lack of leadership in the NFL commissioner's office. After all the talk about player safety — the rule changes, the fines, the public relations blitz — you’d think they would especially want to send a signal when 50 million fans are watching and championships are on the line.
Don't let anybody in any way kid you — Roger Goodell had the power to overturn that decision. He could have changed the result of this football game, and that's the main thing you need to understand. For whatever reason, Goodell chose not to exercise that power. History will forever hold him accountable for this glaring error.
One of my favorite sports programs, ESPN’s "Pardon the Interruption," begged the question, does anyone think this would have stood if the Saints were owned by Al Davis, Jerry Jones or Bob Kraft? Or if it was the New York Giants or the New York Jets?
Of course not!
The reason they did this to us is for the simple reason that they can.
It was just too much trouble for Goodell to go through. And I’m sure they argued internally that it would have set too much of a controversial precedent for the commissioner of the NFL to overturn a “subjective” call from the field, even though it was well within his power to do so.
It is well known the crowning achievement of Roger Goodell's tenure as commissioner (other than the hundreds of millions he's made) is to have a professional football team, or I should say, teams, back in Los Angeles. The Rams are his creation, and it's no coincidence that their home is the second-largest media market in the country.
I challenge someone to ask him, though I doubt you'll get an answer, if the size of the Los Angeles media market compared to New Orleans figured into his decision to stand idly by on not one, but two missed calls on Jan. 20.
After the game, “Joe from the Bayou” called in to the official radio postgame show and nailed it on the head: “The NFL is a multibillion-dollar business, and that’s exactly what this was: business.”
There's no reason that any fan of the Saints, any fan of professional sports or any fan of fair play should ever forget about this. I know that I won't.
The day after the game, I went with my family to see Peter Jackson's "They Shall Not Grow Old." It is the most moving piece of artistic creation that I've ever witnessed in my entire lifetime. Through the big screen, it shows how World War I was truly a massive act of human stupidity, as well as a colossal failure of leadership we should never forget.
Lucky for Commissioner Goodell, no one died because of the stupidity and lack of leadership in the National Football League. But we will never forget.
Political consultant James Carville lives in New Orleans.