After nearly 10 days of deafening silence in the court of public opinion, the day of reckoning has arrived for NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell.
At high noon Wednesday in downtown Atlanta, Goodell will hold his annual State of the NFL press conference and address a myriad of league-related topics with reporters who have gathered to cover Super Bowl LIII between the New England Patriots and Los Angeles Rams (5:40 p.m., Sunday, CBS).
Once Goodell concludes his prepared remarks, I suspect the remainder of the allotted time will turn into a spirited Q&A with media, including random queries into the now infamous officiating blunder from the NFC Championship between the Rams and New Orleans Saints.
Goodell has been conspicuously silent since that fateful day Jan. 20 at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome, suggesting the “No Call” incident has somehow morphed into “No Comment.”
No sense dredging up the specifics. We all know what happened. The Rams parlayed a blown call by officials during the final two minutes of regulation into a stunning 26-23 victory in overtime.
In the aftermath, NFL referee Bill Vicinovic and his officiating crew have become Public Enemy No. 1, not only with the Saints organization and an outraged Who Dat Nation but with countless sympathizers around the country who feel the Black and Gold were deprived of their rightful trip to the Super Bowl.
Legal efforts by Saints fans are still in play to right this egregious wrong. Public and congressional outcry remains strong. It appears this hot-button issue is not going away anytime soon.
That said, I suspect that whatever Goodell says — or doesn’t say — Wednesday will neither appease Saints fans nor bring closure to this unfortunate moment in franchise history.
Heck, the NFL’s Grand Poobah might refrain from addressing the situation altogether on the advice of counsel because of ongoing litigation against the league.
Saints QB Drew Brees attempted to play peacemaker and bring a sense of sanity to what has become an insane situation with a heartfelt message on Instagram. It reads:
“I’ve spent this last week navigating the heartache and disappointment from the game. Some things within our control and some outside our control that caused us to fall short. The frustration we feel now can be channeled in the same way. Pour that passion and emotion into your families and communities. Inspire others with your focus & determination and positive outlook. This will make us stronger, this will bond us tighter, this will be a source for our success in the future. There is no place like New Orleans. There is no community like ours. No fans like the Who Dat Nation. I refuse to let this hold us down. I refuse to let this create any negativity or resentment. I embrace the challenge. So keep your chin up, hold your head high, puff your chest out because WE are the Who Dat Nation and WE will always persevere.”
With regards to Goodell facing the music Wednesday, I have 3 words for Who Dat Nation: Don’t Expect Much!