It is time to clean up this rule: What is considered a catch?
According to the NFL rulebook, the convoluted definition of a catch is:
“A player is in possession when he is in firm grip and control of the ball
inbounds. To gain possession of a loose ball that has been caught, intercepted
or recovered, a player must have complete control of the ball and have both feet
completely on the ground inbounds or any other part of his body, other than his
hands, on the ground inbounds. If the player loses the ball while simultaneously
touching both feet or any other part of his body to the ground or if there is
any doubt that the acts were simultaneous, there is no possession. This rule
applies to the field of play and in the end zone.”
After reading this rule, certainly, the description of a catch is too verbose. No wonder, it is extremely difficult for an official to discern a catch from an incompletion. This weasel worded rule reared its ugly head again in the Championship games. During the Bears vs Packers telecast, former head of NFL officiating Mike Pereira now an analyst for Fox, disagreed with the replay official. When Green Bay’s Sam Shields intercepted a pass, because of the complexity of the catch rule, the play had to be reviewed. It was Pereira’s judgment, it should have been ruled incomplete.
“Two things they’re going to look at,” Pereira said on the air while McAulay reviewed the replay. “No. 1, is it an interception? If they deem that it is, then they’ll have to go back and see if he’s down by contact — which he really was, and you wouldn’t have the advance. But to me, that ball comes loose when it does hit the ground. I think that’s going to be reversed.”
On the contrary, referee Terry McAulay saw things differently. McAulay let the play stand. As per an article on profootballtalk, McAulay did not give any reason for his interpretation. As a result of the confusion surrounding this rule, it is time for the NFL to streamline their defintion of a catch. Why is Pereira saying one thing? And the official on the field saying another? It does not add up. Based on this play alone, the existing rule is so muddy, it is based on an officials’ judgment. Witthout question, this is preposterous. How can the NFL allow this rule to still be on the books?
Let me give you more examples of controversial catches or incompletions. Did the referee make the correct call? Is their too many inconsistent calls? You be the judge. Should Lance Moore’s two point conversion counted? Why was this play ruled a catch but Louis Murphy’s ruled incomplete? I believe the NFL must look at amending this rule. The language about the possession has to be reworded. If the player loses the ball while simultaneously touching both feet or any
other part of his body to the ground or if there is any doubt that the acts were
simultaneous, there is no possession.
To make things clearer, once a receiver has caught a football ( has maintained possession…the football is secure) and both feet or one knee is inbounds. Then, this should be ruled a catch. The nonsense about a second act should be thrown away. This is football not theatre. Hey NFL, save the second act for an opera ticket. Because if this rule is not changed, regardless of the use of replay, it could potentially lead to further trouble in a regular season game or a Super Bowl.