clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

NFL edits confusing Dez Bryant catch rule, and it still does not make much sense

New, comments

The NFL released a re-write of the catch rule that has been controversial for both Calvin Johnson and Dez Bryant. And somehow it is not all that much more clear.

Andrew Weber-USA TODAY Sports

The NFL has had an issue the last few years with a catch rule that leaves plenty to the imagination. The Calvin Johnson rule has recently become also known as the Dez Bryant rule following the craziness of Packers-Cowboys. There was much discussion after the season, and the league decided to re-write the rule in an attempt to make the situation a bit more clear.

The NFL's former VP of Officiating, Mike Pereira tweeted out an updated look at how the rule will read. Deadspin compiled it as follows:

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.

In that article linked above, Deadspin quoted from the previous version of the rule. The updated rule removes the language about a "football move". The change now says the official has to decide whether or not a player has "demonstrate[d] that he is clearly a runner" after the ball is in his hands.

I suppose some might view that as more clear, but it still strikes me as ambiguous and leaving it up to subjective judgement. As Deadspin pointed out, if Bryant had taken one more step, would that be enough? Or would it require something else? It is not clear, and so we are left with NFL officials using more subjective judgement than should be occurring in a football game. I don't like this.