New England Patriots

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell (Photo by Mike Lawrie/Getty Images)

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell (Photo by Mike Lawrie/Getty Images)

From the NFL Newswire at

Former Patriots tight end and prominent NFLPA rep Ben Watson called on NFL commissioner Roger Goodell to publicly address the infamous non-call at the end of the NFC Championship Game between the Rams and Saints. Goodell didn’t respond, but the league did – and probably not in a way that will make Watson or anyone in New Orleans happy.

As reported by Adam Schefter on Friday, the NFL made an “unofficial statement” on the widely criticized officiating error. Their statement? A $26,739 fine for Rams cornerback Nickell Robey-Coleman, who committed a clear pass interference penalty that did not draw a flag, but did draw widespread controversy.

Officials kept the flags in their pockets despite two of them being within earshot of Robey-Coleman’s hit, and despite the cornerback himself admitting that he tried to take an intentional pass interference flag in order to prevent an easy touchdown for Saints receiver Tommylee Lewis.

The NFL’s “statement” came after Watson, who played for the Patriots from 2004-09 and two stints with the Saints before announcing his retirement after 2018, is a vice president of the NFLPA and a former Walter Payton Man of the Year award winner. He’s widely regarded as one of the league’s most active and influential players in his local communities.

In short, his words carry weight across the league – especially when directly calling out the commissioner.

“Commissioner Goodell. We all realize that football is an imperfect game, played, coached and officiated by imperfect people,” Watson’s Twitter statement began. “What occurred last Sunday in New Orleans though, was outside of that expected and accepted norm. Your continued silence on this matter is unbecoming of the position you hold, detrimental to the integrity of the game and disrespectful and dismissive to football fans everywhere.

“From the locker room to Park Ave, accountability is what makes our league great. Lead by example. We are waiting.”

It’s likely that Watson won’t be satisfied by a mere fine for Robey-Coleman. That decision certainly won’t put the Saints in the Super Bowl, which their fans will forever feel they deserve. Ultimately, the world continues to wait for a true response from Goodell himself.

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