Could Goodell Overturn Outcome?

This isn't baseball, where teams are given the chance to protest a game to the commissioner. In the NFL, the power to change the outcome of a game rests with the commissioner.

Could commissioner Roger Goodell step in to overturn the Green Bay Packers' controversial loss to the Seattle Seahawks?

Don't hold your breath.

Doing so would be the ultimate signal that the NFL has ruined the integrity of the game by proceeding with a group of replacement officials who simply lack the resume and experience to be making game-deciding rulings at the professional level.

While doing so no doubt would provide a boost to Goodell's declining popularity among fans — at least among fans not living in the Pacific Northwest — it would be a negotiating blunder as the league tries to hammer out a contract with its real officials. Goodell is running a multibillion-dollar business, after all, and caving in during a negotiation typically isn't good business sense.

In baseball, teams occasionally file a protest with the commissioner if they strongly object to a botched call, bad field conditions, etc. Those protects never get anywhere — other than George Brett's infamous "pine tar" game against the Yankees in 1983.

According to the NFL rulebook, teams are not allowed to file a protest. That power to change outcomes of games rests with the commissioner.

Those rules are detailed in Rule 17, Section 2, which is titled "Extraordinarily Unfair Acts," and the rules state he can not change the outcome of a game based on a judgment call

Commissioner's Authority: "The Commissioner has sole authority to investigate and to take appropriate disciplinary or corrective measures if any club action, nonparticipant interference, or emergency occurs in an NFL game which he deems so unfair or outside the accepted tactics encountered in professional football that such action has a major effect on the result of a game."

No Club Protests: "The authority and measures provided for in this entire Section 2 do not constitute a protest machinery for NFL clubs to avail themselves of in the event a dispute arises over the result of a game. The investigation called for in this Section 2 will be conducted solely on the Commissioner's initiative to review an act or occurrence that he deems so extraordinary or unfair that the result of the game in question would be inequitable to one of the participating teams. The Commissioner will not apply his authority in cases of complaints by clubs concerning judgmental errors or routine errors of omission by game officials. Games involving such complaints will continue to stand as completed."

Penalties for Unfair Acts: "The Commissioner's powers under this Section 2 include the imposition of monetary fines and draft-choice forfeitures, suspension of persons involved in unfair acts, and, if appropriate, the reversal of a game's result or the rescheduling of a game, either from the beginning or from the point at which the extraordinary act occurred. ... In all cases, the Commissioner will conduct a full investigation, including the opportunity for hearings, use of game videotape, and any other procedure he deems appropriate."

With the outcome etched in granite, there should be some uneasy conversations at Lambeau Field between coach Mike McCarthy, who saw his team get robbed of a victory, and President and CEO Mark Murphy. League owners have stood steadfast with Goodell throughout the contentious negotiations with the officials.

Perhaps Monday's outcome, involving one of the league's flagship franchises, will change the tenor of talks. What happened at Seattle was inevitable — at some point, a team was going to lose a game because of an officiating gaffe. The longer this drags on, the greater the chances a team — maybe Green Bay — will wind up missing out on a playoff spot because of officials who have no business deciding what's right and wrong in games played between million-dollar players and billion-dollar owners.

Agree or disagree?: Discuss hot Packers topics in our, free forums. Leave Bill a question in the subscribers-only Packers Pro Club forum.

Bill Huber is publisher of Packer Report magazine and and has written for Packer Report since 1997. E-mail him at, or leave him a question in Packer Report's subscribers-only Packers Pro Club forum. Find Bill on Twitter at

Packer Report Top Stories