Saints controversy about more than football

Madison Williams

The Los Angeles Rams received their first Super Bowl bid since moving to the west coast, but this isn’t what made many headlines the day after the NFC Championship game versus the New Orleans Saints. 
It was the non-call made with 1:45 seconds of the game that left viewers across the country stunned. The penalty was obvious. How could the referees not see it?
In case you weren’t aware what happened, a Rams player aggressively interfered with a Saints receiver who was trying to catch a pass, making the Louisiana team only score a three-point field goal instead of a possible touchdown. The Rams then scored a field goal, forcing the game into overtime when the Rams then scored another field goal to win the high-stakes game and a trip to the Super Bowl.
While the pass interference penalty may have seemed obvious to me and millions of viewers across the country, it apparently wasn’t clear enough for the referee a few feet away from the action.
It was a controversial “non” call, so it makes sense why the sports world was buzzing the next day about what could have been if only the referee would have said something. Some members of “Who Dat Nation” have taken their anger to the next level.
Republican Senator Bill Cassidy of Louisiana brought this football issue to the Senate floor on Friday, Jan. 25 to prove that the referees were wrong. He brought along with him a poster of the hit and a poster of the headline from the Times-Picayune (New Orleans) newspaper.
This seems a bit overdramatic, but Cassidy did this to support a larger cause. Saints owner Gayle Benson announced on Monday, Jan. 21 after the game that she was looking further into discussing this issue with the NFL.
These well-known figures, along with various other Saints fans, say it boils down to the reputation and history of the NFL. Benson commented that “The NFL must always commit to providing the most basic of expectations – fairness and integrity.”
Two loyal Saints fans also are suing the NFL in hopes of having a recall or even to restart the game. Who Dat Nation is trying everything they can before giving up.
Finally, a week after the game on Sunday, Jan. 27, the NFL announced that NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell did not have the power to call for a restart of the game. It had never happened before, and it would be too expensive to move the Super Bowl back.
Logistically, this makes sense why the game could not be replayed. There’s the chance that the Saints could lose again, and then what would be proven? For the NFL, this proposed action would be too much of a risk.
This entire situation begs the question, is football really this important? It’s just one game, and there’s always next year. I’ve seen many games that were determined by a referee call or “non” call across multiple sports, but everyone seems to move past it the next day. Why is this specific game sparking so much controversy?
For Saints fans and members of Who Dat Nation, football truly is more than just a game. For the community of New Orleans, their Saints mean everything to them. After Hurricane Katrina hit in 2005, the community needed something to stay strong and hold themselves together, and that thing was football. It’s embedded in their tradition.
Saints quarterback Drew Brees posted a long caption on his personal Instagram on Monday, Jan. 28. The entirety of his post emphasized how the community of Saints fans and the players are one in the same.
“We want to play for you, fight for you, and win for you. You deserve that. The longer I play, I realize that we truly are one heartbeat with our fans. Our success is your success. Our disappointment is your disappointment… Everything that has ever happened to this community, we have bonded together, galvanized and leaped forward every time,” Brees said.
If anyone ever questions why the Saints fans are taking their frustration to these extremes, refer to Brees’ post. Sports, and football specifically, bring communities together. This one game truly showed how a sport or a team can bring people together in a time where people tend to find ways to separate themselves. The Saints community is something that needs to be admired in America today, no matter how ridiculous their actions may seem.