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As federal workers face another missed payday, these congressmen are worried about the NFL playoffs

It's definitely the right time to get the Judiciary Antitrust Subcomittee involved.

UNITED STATES - NOVEMBER 03:  NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, left, speaks with Rep. Steve Scalise, R-La., before the start of the House Energy and Commerce Committee Commerce, Trade, and Consumer Protection Subcommittee hearing on "The NFL StarCaps Case: Are Sports' Anti-Doping Programs At A Legal Crossroads?" on Tuesday, Nov. 3, 2009.  (Photo By Bill Clark/Roll Call/Getty Images)
UNITED STATES - NOVEMBER 03: NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, left, speaks with Rep. Steve Scalise, R-La., before the start of the House Energy and Commerce Committee Commerce, Trade, and Consumer Protection Subcommittee hearing on "The NFL StarCaps Case: Are Sports' Anti-Doping Programs At A Legal Crossroads?" on Tuesday, Nov. 3, 2009. (Photo By Bill Clark/Roll Call/Getty Images)

We’re on Day 34 of the shutdown, and 800,000 federal workers are about to miss a second paycheck. So it’s comforting to know lawmakers are 100-percent focused on striking a deal to reopen the federal government.

Or at least one could imagine it would be comforting, if that were the case. Instead, in our upside down reality, there is no end to the shutdown in sight, and the full-grown adults we’ve elected to federal office are using their taxpayer-funded megaphones to whine publicly about a football game.

By now, you’ve probably heard what happened on Sunday afternoon in New Orleans. The officials in the NFC Championship game between the New Orleans Saints and Los Angeles Rams missed a blatant pass interference penalty towards the end of regulation, which would have all but guaranteed a Saints victory. Instead, the Rams went on to force overtime and eventually win the game, 26-23.

Fans are understandably devastated, and want to vent and complain to anyone who will listen. But it’s a bit disconcerting to see government officials use their public platforms to call out the referees, the NFL, and Commissioner Roger Goodell, especially while their constituents remain furloughed and unable to feed their families.

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On Wednesday, Rep. Cedric Richmond (D-LA) released an official statement about the game — on Congressional letterhead and everything

What the entire nation witnessed during this past weekend’s NFC Championship game was an upset as a result of an unfair penalty, and I join Saints players, coaches, and fans far and wide over this disappointment. The Saints should be on their way to Atlanta to play in the Super Bowl. Instead, they are left with the memory of officials who failed to create an equal playing field and deprived them of that opportunity. Officials should not have the ability to determine the fate of a team who rightfully earned their place in NFL championship history.

I have since spoken with colleagues on the Judiciary Antitrust Subcomittee about inviting NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell to answer some important questions about the unfair call against the Saints; a call that he has the jurisdiction to overturn. I stand with Saints owner Gayle Benson on the urgency and significance of having this issue addressed so it does not happen again. The Saints got the short end of the stick, and I am proud to witness the strength of the franchise and the unwavering support of Who Dat Nation. I look forward to conveying these views to Mr. Goodell soon.

The statement is 197 words long, just barely shorter than the 208-word statement he released about the shutdown on December 22.

Since January 1, Richmond has tweeted four things about the NFL playoffs, and only three times about the shutdown — and one of those shutdown tweets was also a meme about the NFL playoffs, with Trump sitting at his desk and holding up a photoshopped bill that reads, “The Saints will win the Super Bowl & The Cowboys will pay for the parade.”

Rep. Steve Scalise (R-LA) has also been incredibly vocal about the Saints’ loss. On Sunday, right after the game, he tweeted, “That’s the worst no call I’ve ever seen. The NFL needs to hold the referee crew accountable. A bogus apology won’t cut it. Total BS.”

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On Monday, the House minority whip shared an official statement from the Saints, and argued that the NFL should make up for the horrible call by awarding New Orleans the next available Super Bowl.

On Wednesday, he escalated things when he told TMZ — yes, that TMZ — that the entire game should be replayed.

“This is a rule that they’ve got to revisit,” Scalise said. “Frankly, they should play a makeup game. If the Saints played the Rams on Saturday, I think it’d be the highest-watched sports event all year.”

State and local politicians have also taken a stand against the gross injustice of the NFC Championship Game. Gov. John Bel Edwards (D-LA) released a scathing statement directed to Goodell, expressing his “disappointment” on behalf of all Saints fans.

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“Time has proved that the people of Louisiana are resilient, and we have overcome setbacks much bigger than a bad call in a football game,” the letter read. ” We will move on from this game and will be there to support the Black and Gold when they take the field again this fall. We will move past this game, but we will not forget it.”

Of course, the general public is taking the loss about as well as their elected representatives. Several fans have filed lawsuits, one of which is a class-action in which Saints ticket holders are suing Roger Goodell and the NFL for damages, including mental anguish and emotional trauma, loss of faith in the NFL, loss of enjoyment of life, loss of entertainment, and distrust of the game.

The plaintiffs hope to compel Goodell to invoke Rule 17, Section 2, Article 1 of the NFL rulebook, which says, “The commissioner has the sole authority to investigate and take appropriate disciplinary and/or corrective measures if any club actions, non-participant interference, or calamity occurs in a NFL game in which the commissioner deems so extraordinary unfair or outside the accepted tactics encountered in professional football that such action has a major effect on the result of the game.”

A firm in a neighboring city, Simon Law Offices, has also urged Goodell to look into that rule.

“At present, a large asterisk sits next to the title NFC champions,” said lawyers Cle Simon and Kevin R. Duck. “Allowing the status quo to stand is a ‘black eye’ on the history and integrity of the game which you have been entrusted to preserve and protect.”

The lawsuits might sound ridiculous, but Mike Florio of ProFootballTalk thinks they could actually force the NFL to address the issue. “At a minimum, a state-court judge could force the NFL to emerge from hiding and answer pointed questions about what happened on Sunday, when Rule 17 applies, and why it shouldn’t apply here,” Florio wrote.

At the time of publication, the Goodell has yet to speak publicly about the matter. Clearly with nothing better to do, all local, state, and federal resources must be exhausted until this is remedied.


UPDATE (1/25/19): On Day 35 of the partial government shutdown, Sen. Bill Cassidy (R-LA) joined in on the fun, and gave a passionate presentation about the NFC championship calamity.

“What happened in my belief and the belief of many was the most blatant and consequential blown call in NFL history,” Cassidy said.

He gets extra points for the use of props.