Prison inmate suing NFL, says Steelers should be in playoffs instead of Chargers

Distraught fans go to some extreme lengths to voice their displeasure at their team’s playoff failures. But a prison inmate initiating a lawsuit and asking a judge to force the NFL to stop the playoffs let the Steelers in over the Chargers?

That’s a new one.

The Baltimore Sun on Wednesday reported that Daniel L. Spuck, who online records identify as an inmate at the State Correctional Institution at Mercer (Pa.), filed a motion earlier this month against the NFL and commissioner Roger Goodell in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Pennsylvania, requesting "a temporary emergency injunction" to halt the playoffs over a blown call in a Week 17 game between the Kansas City Chiefs and San Diego Chargers.

The injunction, which you can see here and which is filed as the first step in a civil suit, is stamped as received by the court clerk on Jan. 2, before last weekend’s wild-card games were played. On the play in question, Chiefs kicker Ryan Succop missed 41-yard field-goal attempt with 4 seconds left in regulation, instead sending the game against the Chargers to overtime. The Chargers won the game in overtime, advancing to the playoffs as the AFC’s sixth seed and eliminating the Steelers from the postseason.

But the Chargers were in an illegal formation on the missed field goal and should have been penalized, which would have given Succop another chance at the field goal from five yards closer. Had he made it, the Chargers almost certainly would have been eliminated and the Steelers would have made the playoffs. But no penalty was called, and the NFL acknowledged a day later one should have been called.

In his filing, Spuck asks the court for "a temporary injunction of 1 week to 10 days of all NFL playoffs to allow:"

1. Succop to re-kick the ball from 37 yards instead of 41, and/or

2. The Steelers to play the Chargers on a neutral site to determine the sixth seed, or

3. Goodell to declare the Chiefs winners and make the Steelers the sixth seed instead of the Chargers, and/or

4. Damages be awarded to Spuck in excess of $25,000 plus all legal costs

Adding to the difficulty of the request is of course the fact that the Chargers went on to play last weekend, beating the Bengals in Cincinnati and advancing to this weekend’s divisional round against the top-seeded Broncos in Denver. In fact, the Chargers are the only team identified in the suit still playing; the Chiefs lost to the Colts in Indianapolis last weekend.

The filing originated from an address associated with the State Correctional Institution at Mercer. An online records search confirms a Daniel L. Spuck as an inmate in the facility.