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NFL owners vote unanimously to change catch rules

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Better late than never.

New England Patriots v Pittsburgh Steelers Photo by Joe Sargent/Getty Images

The NFL owners meeting voted to pass several rule changes on Tuesday, and chief among them was their initiative to finally fix the broken catch rules. According to NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport, the amended catch rules were passed unanimously by all 32 owners.

While the official language of the rule has yet to be announced, the league’s competition committee released what their proposal was going to be last week. It simplifies a catch into three main criteria:

  1. Control of the football
  2. Two feet down or another body part
  3. A football move, which can defined as “a third step, reaching/extending for the line-to-gain, or the ability to perform such an act.”

The hope of the rule change is to make certain plays that look like catches—specifically ones that involve players going to the ground—actual legal catches. The biggest issue came on plays in which players reached out for extra yardage while in the middle of “completing the process of the catch.” Those plays—like the infamous Dez Bryant or Jesse James catches—will now be considered legal completions.

While this move is likely to draw wide praise, I, like Lions Wire’s Ty Schalter, have my doubts. Just look at the language of that last item. How would you define someone who has “the ability to perform such an act”? What does that look like? That sort of wiggle room leaves too much grey area for officials.

And I’m sure there are going to be a ton of unintended consequences of this rule change. For example, going-to-the-ground incidents that don’t involve contact with a defender will now not just be considered catches, but catches and fumbles, should the ball come loose.

But at least the league is making a change—albeit almost a decade too late.

They’ve got Golden Tate’s support: