NFL Rumors: How league Will Fix Controversial Catch Rule, Replay System


March 20, 2018

Rejoice, NFL fans: The league’s controversial catch rule reportedly will get a makeover.

The NFL’s rule-making competition committee soon will finalize changes to the rule and propose them to the league’s 32 owners, The Washington Post’s Mark Maske reported Tuesday. The proposal will include modifications two notorious points of interest: movement of the ball and the going-to-the-ground requirement.

Furthermore, the league’s replay system, which at times can go overboard on frame-by-frame analysis, reportedly will be dialed back.

“We worked backward,” Troy Vincent, the NFL’s executive vice president of football operations, told Maske in a phone interview. “We looked at plays and said: Do you want that to be a catch? And then we applied that to the rule.

“Slight movement of the ball, it looks like we’ll reverse that. Going to the ground, it looks like that’s going to be eliminated. And we’ll go back to the old replay standard of reverse the call on the field only when it’s indisputable.”

Here’s some additional context from Maske:

“The new catch rule,” Vincent said, “will require only that a receiver have control of the football, and any slight movement of the football in the receiver’s hands detected via replay review would not result in an incompletion.

“The new rule will eliminate the requirement that a receiver who is in the process of going to the ground while making a catch must maintain control of the football while on the turf to be awarded a legal catch.”

So, that infamous Dez Bryant non-catch from the 2014 NFC divisional playoff game between the Dallas Cowboys and the Green Bay Packers? That now would be a catch. So, too, would Jesse James’ overturned touchdown from December’s game between the Pittsburgh Steelers and the New England Patriots.

If these changes really get made, then a previously ambiguous rule finally will have some clarity. Then again, when has the NFL ever given you faith that it can get things like this right?

Thumbnail photo via Charles LeClaire/USA TODAY Sports Images
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