NFL wins small victory in no-call case; new details released in documents

In this Sunday, Jan. 20, 2019 file photo, New Orleans Saints wide receiver Tommylee Lewis (11) works for a catch against Los Angeles Rams defensive back Nickell Robey-Coleman (23) during the second half the NFL football NFC championship game, in New Orleans. The Rams won 26-23. | Photo Source: AP Photo / Gerald Herbert
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NEW ORLEANS, La. (WVUE) - The National Football League can claim a slight win in its legal battle after a court ruling on Wednesday over the “NOLA No-Call".

The Louisiana Supreme Court ruled to suspend the case's discovery process until the court rules on whether Saints ticket holders have the right to challenge the outcome of a game.

Lawyer and superfan Tony LeMon filed the lawsuit on behalf of himself and three other ticket holders.

LeMon said the NFL did hand over some information before the supreme court’s latest ruling.

He said his lawsuit against the NFL is not just about the no-call in the NFC Championship game, but also the NFL holding itself accountable.

LeMon released information that was produced before the Aug. 14 decision, including what referees said they remember from the play against the Los Angeles Rams.

Head Referee William “Bill” Vinovich, III (“Vinovich”), who supervised the six other officials, states that he was in the offensive backfield during the “No Call” play and denies that he “could see the receiver, the ball, and the defender from his position”. He further stated that after the NFC Championship game (“game”), he answered pool reporters questions and stated that “he did not see the contact at issue during the Play.”

Down Judge Patrick O. Turner, Jr. (“Turner”) claims that he “saw the ball, the receiver, and the defender arrive at the area simultaneously, with the defender leading with his arms for a block at the receiver’s chest.”

Side Judge Gary P. Cavaletto (“Cavaletto”) identically claims that he “saw the ball, the receiver, and the defender arrive at the area simultaneously, with the defender leading with his arms for a block at the receiver’s chest.”

Both Cavaletto and Turner spoke briefly to NFL VP of Officials Al Riveron (“Riveron”) shortly after the game giving the above statements. Cavaletto also claims that the day after the game that he told Riveron that “he did not observe contact to the head or neck of the receiver.”

All three officials (Vinovich, Turner, and Cavaletto) gave “write-ups” after the NFC Championship game (“game”) of the fouls that were called and those fouls that

were not called and that those “write-ups” were sent to their supervisor (never identified), “who provided comments as to some of the write-ups.” None of those documents were produced, although requested by Plaintiffs.

The NFL and Goodell claim that Vinovich, Turner and Cavaletto were all in their correct positions as officials at all times during the “No Call” play!

NFL CONCESSIONS & DENIALS

The NFL admitted that both “pass interference” and “unnecessary roughness” should have been called as a result of the “No Call” play, but the NFL and Goodell denied that these two-player infractions were flagrant or easily visible to at least one of their seven officials on the field. The NFL denies that any of the seven officials observed either of the two-player infractions during the “No Call” play “in real-time at full speed.”

The NFL avoided direct responses to the following questions:

(1) Did you have any concern that four members of the officiating crew resided in the Los Angeles area (no direct response provided);

(2) Did Goodell see the “No Call” play in live or real-time (no information provided);

(3) Were any of the officials disciplined because of the “No Call” play (no information provided, except to state, perhaps by implication that none of those NFC Championship officials were selected to officiate Super Bowl LIII);

(4) Why did it appear that Turner reached for his flag during the “No Call” play (no information provided);

(5) Exactly where were each of the seven officials’ looking at the time of these two infractions (no information provided except as stated above);

(6) Identify the NFL employees, press members and any others who took video and photographs of the game and the “No Call” play (no information provided);

(7) Identify the NFL employees who attended the game and what were their functions or duties (no information provided except to identify the seven-game officials and Riveron); and

(8) Identify all officials of the NFL during the 2018 season and where did each such official live during the 2018 season.

OTHER NOTABLE STATEMENTS BY THE NFL AND GOODELL

The NFL and Goodell denied that no apology was given to the ticketholders because of the “No Call” play;

The NFL and Goodell denied that ticketholders have any legally recognizable expectations, reasonable or not, in the administration of the game;

The NFL and Goodell denied that they have represented to the public that their officials will uniformly enforce player violations or infractions of the NFL Rules if observed by those officials;

EVIDENCE NOT PRODUCED

Although formally requested of the NFL and Goodell:

(1) Videos or photographs of the game and the “No Call” play and the position of each official during the “No Call” play were not produced;

(2) Written or electronic statements given by any the seven NFC Championship game officials regarding the “No Call” play were not produced;

(3) The hand notes of the seven-game officials taken during the game were not produced;

(4) Any Internal investigations by the NFL of the “No Call” play were not produced;

(5) Performance evaluations or grading of the seven officials used for their selection for the NFC Championship game were not produced;

(6) Any disciplinary action taken against any of the seven officials because of the “No Call” play was neither acknowledged to exist nor produced; and

(7) NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell failed to attach and produce an Affidavit signed by him personally as to truthfulness and completeness of his responses to the interrogatories and requests for admissions of fact directed to him personally as mandated under law.

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