ORLANDO, Fla. – The NFL has passed a revamped version of the controversial "catch rule" after a unanimous 32-0 vote on Tuesday afternoon.
Here's what you need to know about the tweak that was approved on at the league's annual meetings. There are now three clearly laid out elements of a catch.
- The receiver must have control of the football.
- The receiver must have two feet in bounds.
- The receiver must make a football move. That could come in the form of a third foot/extra step, tucking the football, reaching the football across the line to gain/goal line, etc.
The big takeaway is that the gray area about completing the catch through contact with the ground has been removed. Once a receiver has sustained the three parts of a catch, any loss of control thereafter is irrelevant as it pertains to the catch itself.
"I think it makes great sense," John Lynch said on Monday. "I think it will be much easier to officiate."
The San Francisco 49ers general manager explained that everyone – coaches, GMs, fans and otherwise – has a memory of their team being burned by the catch rule. The old verbiage cost the 49ers a touchdown in Week 16 just last year against the Jacksonville Jaguars. San Francisco looked to have a scoop and score on a T.J. Yeldon fumbled shortly after a reception in the fourth quarter. The 49ers lost their challenge, however, as it was ruled as an incomplete pass instead.
Dallas Cowboys head coach Jason Garrett walked by just as Lynch was explaining his thoughts on the new rule. Lynch pointed him out and said, "I wonder how his life may have been different if that Dez Bryant thing was indeed a catch."
Sure enough, at a press conference on Monday afternoon, the competition committee pulled up Bryant's non-catch in the 2014 playoffs against the Green Bay Packers. Under the new rule, that play would now be catch.
From how Lynch understands it, the competition committee went through several controversial plays and asked simply, "is this a catch?" The three parts of a catch were created from there.
"I think they've done a nice job cleaning that up," Lynch said. "I'm sure there are going to be things that pop up because every time you tweak something there are unintended consequences that come from it. But I do think they've cleaned it up in terms of taking the 'going to the ground' part out. That just opened up Pandora's box.
"I used to joke when I was broadcasting that you better take that ball home to your mom before they're going to rule it a catch. It took away all reason. To everyone a play would look like a catch, but they wouldn't rule it a catch."
This is the NFL essentially admitting that it completely overthought an issue that should be fairly common sense. As Lynch mentioned, it won't be perfect and there are still sure to be controversial plays. But this is still a definitive step in the right direction.