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Published: Wednesday, March 21, 2018 @ 4:53 PM
— Remember how the catch rules in the NFL have been a disaster the last few years?
Apparently that might not be the case anymore.
I hesitate to be too quick to rubberstamp the announcement made by NFL director of officiating Al Riveron, but I would say it’s OK to be optimistic things will be better next season.
After much deliberation & input from coaches, players, @NFLLegends, & club executives, the @NFL Competition Committee will recommend the following language simplifying the catch rule at the Annual Meeting next week. pic.twitter.com/hJwH5YYBRK— Al Riveron (@alriveron) March 21, 2018
If the NFL competition committee recommendation is accepted, figuring out when a catch has occurred should be much easier.
If you see a player obtain possession of the ball with two feet (or another body part) on the ground and make a football move, you will have seen a catch.
How is that last part defined?
A “football move” can include a third step, reaching or extending for the line to gain (or goal line presumably) or the ability to perform such an act.
Absent is language about players “surviving the ground,” which is an area from which much of the confusion has come in recent years because for some reason rulesmakers thought the process should be different if a player is going to the ground than if he was not.
A controversial non-catch by Steelers tight end Jesse James was among plays included in a video Riveron tweeted as an example of plays being reviewed as changes to the rules are considered.
.@NFL Competition Committee proposal noted in the previous tweet simplifies the catch process & allows for plays such as the @DezBryant (2014 post-season) and @JJames18_ (2017 season) to become catches. pic.twitter.com/K2caIndpGZ— Al Riveron (@alriveron) March 21, 2018
James brought the ball in with two feet down but lost it as he turned to try to stretch across the goal line. It was initially ruled a touchdown but overturned upon review because James had not maintained control of the ball after hitting the ground.
This play, in a crucial late-season game between the Steelers and Patriots, was one of several high-profile examples of the current rules making sense to few people outside the league offices because extending the ball seems like “a football play,” but it was not being ruled as such.
That is set to change.
The same ruling on a similar play cost Tyler Eifert a touchdown for the Bengals in a game at Baltimore in 2015.