The NFL’s rulemaking competition committee has completed its proposal attempting to simplify the sport’s controversial catch rule.
The committee’s proposal is to be presented to team owners at the league’s annual meeting next week in Orlando. It must be ratified by at least 24 of the 32 NFL teams and, if approved, would take effect next season.
Al Riveron, the NFL’s senior vice president of officiating, announced Wednesday on Twitter that the new rule will require a receiver to have control of the football with two feet (or another body part) on the ground. The receiver must then perform a football move, such as taking another step or reaching the football toward the goal line or first-down marker, or have the ability to perform such an act, according to Riveron’s announcement.
Troy Vincent, the NFL’s executive vice president of football operations, said in a phone interview Tuesday that the new rule no longer requires a receiver who goes to the ground while making a catch to maintain possession of the football while on the turf to be awarded a legal catch. Slight movement of the football while in the receiver’s hands detected via instant replay review no longer will result in an incompletion as long as the receiver is deemed to have control of the football, Vincent said.
According to Vincent, indisputable video evidence will be required on replay under the new rule to overturn a catch ruling made by the officials on the field, rather than a standard of clear and obvious.
“We worked backward,” Vincent said Tuesday. “We looked at plays and said: Do you want that to be a catch? And then we applied that to the rule.”
Riveron wrote Wednesday on Twitter that, as Vincent said Tuesday, prominent rulings of non-catches involving the Dallas Cowboys’ Dez Bryant during the NFC playoffs at the end of the 2014 season and the Pittsburgh Steelers’ Jesse James last season would be considered legal catches under the new rule.
NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said during Super Bowl week that he wanted the competition committee to start from scratch in rewriting the catch rule.
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