“Is it a catch? Is it not a catch? What is a catch?”
Finally, the NFL is going to address these questions in the upcoming annual owners’ meetings in Orlando, Florida. Plays like the Dez Bryant catch, the Calvin Johnson non-catch, and the notorious Zach Miller non-catch against the Saints: would all be ruled completions under the proposed changes. In essence, the competition committee is addressing their biggest challenge in terms of consistency.
In summary, the committee is proposing a change to the overall language used when describing a catch. The requirement to determine full control over the ball, while going to the ground, is being thrown out completely. Instead, referees will be instructed to abide by the following guidelines.
- Control of the ball - Is the ball firmly grasped by the receiver’s body and hands?
- Body control - Does the receiver have two feet in bounds? And, does the receiver have control before a body part (knee or elbow) touch the ground?
- Football move - Does the receiver perform the following actions: a third step, reaching for extra yardage and or the end zone, and have the ability to perform such acts?
Naturally, like any rule in sports, there will still be some gray areas to sort out. And, there will likely be questionable calls made in the future. Just like there’s been questionable calls in the past. However, a major step forward towards rectifying the overall clarity in determining a catch has been made. This, along with several other proposed rules, are pending a vote by the owners of all 32 teams. A vote that could change the landscape of many games back to a common ground moving forward.