Saints' owner Gayle Benson: 'I will aggressively pursue changes in NFL policies' after missed penalty

New Orleans Saints owner Gayle Benson, like so many others associated with the team, is upset at the non-call late in her team’s NFC championship loss to the Los Angeles Rams on Sunday.

But unlike most, Benson is actually in a position to push for changes.

On Monday afternoon, the Saints posted a strongly-worded statement from Benson that makes clear her disappointment and her intention to “aggressively pursue changes in NFL policies to ensure no team and fan base is ever put in a similar position again.” It’s rare, if not unprecedented, for an NFL owner to publicly call out game officials.

It’s unclear at this time what those changes could be; earlier Monday, the Washington Post reported that the league may consider allowing pass interference calls to be reviewed. New Orleans coach Sean Payton is one of the members of the influential competition committee, so it seems almost certain there will be discussion of it, regardless of whether a change ultimately comes to pass.

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Rams vs. Saints NFC Championship game
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Rams vs. Saints NFC Championship game
NEW ORLEANS, LA - JANUARY 20: Los Angeles Rams kicker Greg Zuerlein (4) kicks the game winning field goal during the NFC Championship Football game between the Los Angeles Rams and the New Orleans Saints on January 20, 2019 at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome in New Orleans, LA. (Photo by Jordon Kelly/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
New Orleans Saints' Ted Ginn catches a pass in front of Los Angeles Rams' Lamarcus Joyner during the second half of the NFL football NFC championship game, Sunday, Jan. 20, 2019, in New Orleans. (AP Photo/John Bazemore)
NEW ORLEANS, LA - JANUARY 20: Los Angeles Rams inside linebacker Cory Littleton (58) and Los Angeles Rams defensive tackle Ethan Westbrooks (95) celebrate after the game during the NFC Championship Football game between the Los Angeles Rams and the New Orleans Saints on January 20, 2019 at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome in New Orleans, LA. (Photo by Jordon Kelly/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
NEW ORLEANS, LA - JANUARY 20: New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees (9) looks to throw the ball during the NFC Championship Football game between the Los Angeles Rams and the New Orleans Saints on January 20, 2019 at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome in New Orleans, LA. (Photo by Jordon Kelly/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
NEW ORLEANS, LA - JANUARY 20: Los Angeles Rams running back Todd Gurley (30) runs the ball for a gain during the NFC Championship Football game between the Los Angeles Rams and the New Orleans Saints on January 20, 2019 at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome in New Orleans, LA. (Photo by Jordon Kelly/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
NEW ORLEANS, LA - JANUARY 20: New Orleans Saints running back Mark Ingram (22) runs the ball during the NFC Championship Football game between the Los Angeles Rams and the New Orleans Saints on January 20, 2019 at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome in New Orleans, LA. (Photo by Jordon Kelly/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
NEW ORLEANS, LA - JANUARY 20: Los Angeles Rams quarterback Jared Goff (16) looks to throw the ball during the NFC Championship Football game between the Los Angeles Rams and the New Orleans Saints on January 20, 2019 at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome in New Orleans, LA. (Photo by Jordon Kelly/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
NEW ORLEANS, LA - JANUARY 20: New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees (9) looks to throw the ball during the NFC Championship Football game between the Los Angeles Rams and the New Orleans Saints on January 20, 2019 at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome in New Orleans, LA. (Photo by Jordon Kelly/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
NEW ORLEANS, LA - JANUARY 20: Los Angeles Rams quarterback Jared Goff (16) throws the ball down field during the NFC Championship Football game between the Los Angeles Rams and the New Orleans Saints on January 20, 2019 at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome in New Orleans, LA. (Photo by Jordon Kelly/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
NEW ORLEANS, LA - JANUARY 20: Los Angeles Rams head coach Sean McVay after the NFC Championship Football game between the Los Angeles Rams and the New Orleans Saints on January 20, 2019 at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome in New Orleans, LA. (Photo by Jordon Kelly/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
NEW ORLEANS, LOUISIANA - JANUARY 20: John Johnson #43 of the Los Angeles Rams intercepts a pass in overtime against the New Orleans Saints in the NFC Championship game at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome on January 20, 2019 in New Orleans, Louisiana. (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)
NEW ORLEANS, LOUISIANA - JANUARY 20: Drew Brees #9 of the New Orleans Saints shakes hands with Jared Goff #16 of the Los Angeles Rams at the start of overtime in the NFC Championship game at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome on January 20, 2019 in New Orleans, Louisiana. (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)
NEW ORLEANS, LOUISIANA - JANUARY 20: Head coach Sean McVay of the Los Angeles Rams celebrates with Andrew Whitworth #77 after defeating the New Orleans Saints in the NFC Championship game at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome on January 20, 2019 in New Orleans, Louisiana. The Los Angeles Rams defeated the New Orleans Saints with a score of 26 to 23. (Photo by Jonathan Bachman/Getty Images)
El wide receiver Ted Ginn (19), de los Saints de Nueva Orleáns, se queda con el balón ante el free safety Lamarcus Joyner, de los Rams de Los Ángeles, en el partido por el campeonato de la Conferencia Nacional de la NFL, el domingo 20 de enero de 2019, en Nueva Orleáns. (AP Foto/Gerald Herbert)
Los Angeles Rams players celebrate after overtime of the NFL football NFC championship game against the New Orleans Saints, Sunday, Jan. 20, 2019, in New Orleans. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)
Los Angeles Rams' Nickell Robey-Coleman breaks up a pass intended for New Orleans Saints' Michael Thomas during the second half the NFL football NFC championship game Sunday, Jan. 20, 2019, in New Orleans. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)
Los Angeles Rams' JoJo Natson tries to get past New Orleans Saints' Vonn Bell during the first half the NFL football NFC championship game Sunday, Jan. 20, 2019, in New Orleans. (AP Photo/John Bazemore)
New Orleans Saints wide receiver Tommylee Lewis (11) works for a coach against Los Angeles Rams defensive back Nickell Robey-Coleman (23) during the second half the NFL football NFC championship game Sunday, Jan. 20, 2019, in New Orleans. The Rams won 26-23. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)
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New England Patriots coach Bill Belichick has argued for a few years that all calls and non-calls should be subject to coaches’ challenge or review.

Here is Benson’s statement in full:

“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.

– Gayle Benson”

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