Sports

The NFL Changed The Catch Rule, But Not To Make The Dez Bryant ‘Catch’ Legal


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If your reaction to the controversial Dez Bryant non-catch from this past season’s divisional playoff game between the Dallas Cowboys and Green Bay Packers was, “They need to change that stupid rule,” then good news! The NFL has heard your cries for justice, and they have indeed changed the rule. There’s just one problem: They changed the wording of the rule to make it maybe 10 percent less confusing, but not more inclusive. In other words, they doubled down on Dez. Fox Sports rules analyst (and former NFL VP of Officiating) Mike Pereira reported the change on Twitter:

He then posted the exact wording of the rule, which has been compiled here (and corrected for spelling) for readability.

“A player is considered to be going to the ground if he does not remain upright long enough to demonstrate that he is clearly a runner. If a player goes to the ground in the act of catching a pass (with or without contact by an opponent), he must maintain control of the ball until after his initial contact with the ground, whether in the field of play or the end zone. If he loses control of the ball and the ball touches the ground before he regains control, the pass is incomplete. If he regains control prior to the ball touching the ground, the pass is complete.”

So the controversial “football move” clause has been removed and replaced with “demonstrat[ing] he is clearly a runner.” Did Dez stay upright here long enough to do that?


Probably not, because he was falling over Sam Shields as soon as the ball was in his hands. He’s not clearly running. Pereira seems positive that the new wording would still call this play incomplete. But what about the other famous application of the old version of the rule, Calvin Johnson?

In Megatron’s case, the new rule is easier to understand, and even dumber. Johnson clearly didn’t establish himself as a runner, and the ball came out of his hands when it touched the ground, so, by the new rule, it’s clearly incomplete. Which is stupid! Any football fan (who doesn’t root for the Bears) watching Calvin’s play there would say that’s clearly a catch, simply by using basic logic and vision. Dez clearly caught the ball and lunged for the end zone in a dazzling feat of athleticism. The NFL thinks that the problem with both of those calls is not that they were ruled incomplete, but that the call was in any way arguable. No more problems there, NFL! We’re now positive that those awesome plays won’t count. Great.

(Via Mike Pereira)

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