As we near the nine year anniversary of the Calvin Johnson Rule, it appears the NFL is finally interested in fixing the broken rule that has ravished through the entire league since that fateful 2010 day in Chicago.
Roger Goodell did his Super Bowl tour of radio spots this week in Minneapolis, and the NFL’s catch rules were a hot topic for many of his appearance. For the first time in a while, Goodell is speaking openly about his desire to fix the rules.
“I think there are several things that—I just had a long conversation with a head coach last night—are leading to some changes this Spring that I think will address this issue,” Goodell told ESPN’s Mike Golic and Trey Wingo this week.
The majority of focus, it appears, will be on the “going to the ground” rule that has popularized the phrase “surviving the ground.” Here’s how the rule currently looks in the NFL Rulebook:
Item 1. Player Going to the Ground. 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.
This rule has caused confusion as to when a player is officially going to the ground, but the worst consequence of the rule is that it has deemed plays incomplete even though they very clearly look like a catch. That’s why Goodell is seeking change.
“It’s not the rule the people really want,” Goodell told Colin Cowherd on Monday. “We’ve got some ideas of how to bring some clarity to that, particularly in the going to the ground, that I think has created a lot of the confusion.”
Goodell said he’s already had several conversations with players and coaches and expects this to be a hot topic during the competition committee meetings in February and March. If the committee presents a valid change to the rule, and at least 75 percent of the owner agree with the rule change, we could see a fix to the problem by the league’s annual meeting in late March.