The NFL could have finally simplified the catch rule puzzle that has dogged the league for some time now. According to a report by the league's committee on competition, the new definition is meant to simplify the NFL catch rule and hopefully provide some sanity in this respect. However, the committee was quick to state that the re-definition is not cast in stone. There may be future amendments where it is deemed necessary. In essence, the league is certainly open to any debate and ideas in a bid to perfect the rule. In the new rule of catch, the player has to land in bounds after catching the ball, then show that he has control of the ball.
More specifically, the player has to do three things. First, they have to catch the ball in their hands or arms securely before the ball hits the ground. Then, the player has to touch the ball in bounds with both feet or with any other part of his body other than his hands. Thirdly, the player must perform an act that is common to the game which includes tucking the ball away, taking an additional step, warding off an opponent among others. These three requirements will constitute the catch rule so that teams can have a clearer picture of what is expected. This news was widely received positively with teams eager to have a system that is consistent for fair play.
With the above, the player does not have to survive the ground if they have already met the three requirements mentioned above. The NFL owners approved this new rule with a vote of 32-0 to put to rest endless debates on controversial catches; examples being the Calvin Jonson catch of 2010 and the Dez Bryant catch of 2014. NFL's senior vice president of officiating Al Riveron at a news conference acknowledged that the new changes may lead to a rise in fumbles. However, he was quick to say that fan pressure weighed in on the decision. This is not a perfect rule but it seeks to make the game better in this respect.
There is no doubt that the debate was fueled by the overturning of Bryant's catch. So much so that Commissioner Rodger Goodell promised that this problem would be fixed. Amid an air of optimism, the owners determined that the new changes cannot completely eliminate the problem. There is bound to be some controversial calls and this would be expected. However, reducing the controversy is a step in the right direction. John Mara, the Giant's president also acknowledged that all cannot be perfect and that there would be few issues to be expected.
The rule of catch was not the only thing that changed in the NFL rule book. The committee on competition sought to eliminate or reduce dangerous hits involving player helmets. Now, the players do not have to violently initiate contact with each other. In fact, it bans any perceived violence involving the crown of the helmet. Going forward, this rule may play a role in reducing unnecessary roughness on the field.
And yeah -- the NFL can't make up its mind on rules, and the definition of a "catch" sounds like it was written by existential philosophers. ("Can anything really be *caught*?") The existence of replay is actually one of the smaller controversies in the league today.
Only uneducated sports fans think this.... the NFL is a pathetic organization. Do we all not remember how wishy-washy they have been on the “catch” rule? Or the continuous changes to the rules involving hits? Organizationally the NBA is by far better