The NFL catch rule, in all its complicated and confused glory, reared its ugly head multiple times in the 2017-18 season, even popping up in the Super Bowl when some people felt that Zach Ertz’s touchdown catch should have been overturned — not because he didn’t catch the ball, but based on the previous precedent set by other overturned calls.
There has been so much public outcry about the broken rule, that fixing it before next season is one of the main priorities of the NFL’s competition committee. According to ESPN, who spoke with New York Giants owner and committee member John Mara, they are trying to come up with new wording to make things simpler, citing the infamous Dez Bryant non-catch from the 2014 season that pretty much everyone agrees was definitely a catch.
“I think where we are unanimous,” Mara told ESPN on Tuesday, “[are] plays like the Dez Bryant play in Green Bay, going to the ground, [and] the Calvin Johnson play from a couple of years ago. I think all of us agree that those should be completions. So let’s write the language to make them completions.”
Mara also spoke of recent examples, like when Pittsburgh Steelers tight end Jesse James had a touchdown overturned in a pivotal late season game against the Patriots, despite breaking the endzone plane without being touched, in clear control of the football, and then losing control as he hit the ground.
“The Jesse James play, I think should be a completion,” Mara said, “but I’m not sure we’re unanimous on that. But plays where guys seem to make the catch and then make a football move with it, I think most of us agree those should be completions. Now it’s just a question of coming up with the right language.”
Whatever they do, the rule definitely needs to be altered (at the least) or overhauled completely (the other extreme). When 90 percent of the fans watching on TV say “that was a catch,” and then the referees call it back, after a 10-minute delay in the action, based on some obscure wording in the complex NFL rule book, it hurts the game.