Goodell Plans to “Start Over” with No-Catch Rule
By Brian Danuff 2/2/2018
MINNEAPOLIS, Minn. – As they say in Hollywood, this is going to need a total rewrite.
NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said in a press conference Wednesday the league plans to review the current “no-catch rule” in the off-season. However, rather than revising the rule, Goodell said he’d prefer to “start over again.”
The current rule states that if a player loses control of the ball while going to the ground after making the initial catch, it should be ruled an incompletion. This has caused headaches throughout the league, as there’s been an apparent lack of uniformity from officials when enforcing this rule.
Goodell disagrees, saying the officials are “extraordinary professionals” whose jobs are far more difficult today thanks to advancements in technology such as instant replay.
Nevertheless, the league is already welcoming debate over the rule at the league offices. Goodell noted Hall of Fame players and coaches recently met and watched 150 different plays in order to “figure out what should be catch.”
The rule played a big role in the New England Patriots’ Week 15 win over the Pittsburgh Steelers. What would’ve been a potential game-winning touchdown catch by Steelers tight end Jesse James was instead ruled incomplete, because James lost possession of the ball as he went to the ground. However, replays showed James largely maintained possession, which represents the core of the debate: whether losing possession for even a fraction of a second should constitute an incomplete pass.
No matter how the current rule is handled, Goodell acknowledges there will always be disagreements on what a catch in the NFL should be.
“I’m not going to tell you there won’t be controversy,” Goodell said. “but I believe that we can get to a much better place.”