Saints owner: Team 'unfairly deprived' of Super Bowl, will seek rule changes

Saints owner Gayle Benson had some strong words
Saints Rams
Posted at 3:02 PM, Jan 21, 2019
and last updated 2019-01-21 17:04:19-05

New Orleans Saints owner Gayle Benson issued a strongly-worded statement on the Saints' web site one day after the Saints lost to the Los Angeles Rams in overtime of the NFC Championship Game.

Saints players and fans are still steaming over a missed call late in the fourth quarter, in which Rams cornerback Nickell Robey-Coleman was not called for a pass-interference penalty despite making contact with Saints wide receiver Tommylee Lewis before Lewis had a chance to catch the ball. The no-call eventually allowed the Rams to send the game to overtime and win 26-23 to move on to the Super Bowl.

On Monday, Benson, who became the team's owner following the death of her husband Tom Benson in March, said she is "thoroughly disappointed" by the officiating in Sunday's game, and said she will "aggressively pursue changes in NFL policies" to ensure teams get a fair result in the future.

Here is Benson's full statement:

Yesterday’s result is still difficult to accept for all of us. I am thoroughly disappointed by the events that led to the outcome of yesterday’s game. Getting to the Super Bowl is incredibly difficult to do and takes such an unbelievable commitment from a team and support from its fans. No team should ever be denied the opportunity to reach the title game (or simply win a game) based on the actions, or inactions, of those charged with creating a fair and equitable playing field.

As is clear to all who watched the game, it is undeniable that our team and fans were unfairly deprived of that opportunity yesterday. I have been in touch with the NFL regarding yesterday’s events and will aggressively pursue changes in NFL policies to ensure no team and fan base is ever put in a similar position again. It is a disservice to our coaches, players, employees and, most importantly, the fans who make our game possible. The NFL must always commit to providing the most basic of expectations- fairness and integrity.

Our entire team is humbled and grateful for the support shown by our fans over the course of the season. It has become common for teams to proclaim that they have the “best fans in the NFL”. I do not believe there is any debate, however, that we truly have the most inspiring, committed and passionate fans in all of professional sports. This is true whether you are from New Orleans or part of our family of fans from the entire state, region and country.

The truth is we are more than team and fans- we are a family. As a family we celebrate together, support each other and sometimes suffer together. This past season has been especially meaningful to me as we honored my husband. I will never be able to fully express my appreciation for the way all of you have supported me and our team in honoring Tom Benson’s legacy. I know he is proud of this team and our fans.

While the way this season ended has left us all frustrated and disappointed, I am comforted knowing we will respond the way our community always responds- with resilience, fierce determination and love for each other and the Saints.

I have had many blessings in my life, perhaps the greatest is being born in New Orleans and having the opportunity to be a part of the Saints family with you. Next season starts now and I can’t wait to share it with you again.