New NFL catch rule unanimously approved
By Bob Garcia
One of the most controversial calls on the turf has routinely been whether a catch was, or wasn’t, actually a catch. That will change next year, as all 32 team owners agreed to change the rule that defines a catch. It’s just one of many rules that the NFL teams agreed upon during their annual meeting held this week.
A catch will now be valid if three criteria are met. The receiver has to have control of the ball, has to establish himself in bounds and has to make a football move, like taking a third step or lunging with the football in his hands. In theory, the change will be an improvement and should reduce confusion on the field. In theory.
One former referee disagrees, stating that it only moves the judgment on the part of the game’s referee. Dean Blandino, who was a former NFL officiating chief, said, "If the receiver performs an act common to the game, if he performs a football move, whatever you want to call it, on the way to the ground, if you say that supersedes him having to hold the ball all the way to the ground, then that adds another layer of judgment for the official and in replay. You’re just shifting the debate from, ‘Was he going to the ground and did he hold on to it?’ to ‘Did he make a football move?’"
In addition to the catch/non-catch rule, the league decided to make permanent the move to the 25-yard line all touchbacks after kickoffs. It also will allow senior vice president of officiating Al Riveron the ability to eject players, even if on-field refs don’t make the call.