11/24/15 by Matthew S. Vandriak
A catch in football should be simple to understand, right? The ball lands in a players hands, and it's a catch, it's that easy. Well not in the NFL. In today's NFL world of replay, coaches challenges, booth reviews, and over analyzing plays, a catch is no longer just a catch. And fans, analysts, players, and coaches seem to have no idea what exactly the rules are.
Let's look at the sideline catch first. It used to be if a player gets two feet in bounds and has possession of the ball, it's a catch. But it's not that easy to understand anymore. Because a shin or knee in bounds equals two feet. Well usually. That's where the interpretation part comes in. And it seems the interpretation varies depending on who the on field officials and who the booth judges are. Because one shin, knee, butt, etc. hasn't always equaled two feet. But in some cases it has. Which adds to the confusion of players, coaches, fans, analysts, etc.
Then there is the act of a player controlling the ball, especially in the end zone. Last week, Odell Beckham Jr. caught what looked to be a touchdown pass against New England. Beckham caught the ball, and got two feet down in the end zone before the ball was knocked out of his hands. According to what most think the rule is when it comes to the end zone, as long as a player has possession and the ball breaks the plain of the goal line, it's a touchdown. Beckham had possession, was in the end zone, and the play should end at that point. But it didn't in this case. Because the officials said Beckham didn't have control of the ball since it got knocked out of his hands. But he caught the ball and touched both feet in bounds in the end zone. Once the ball breaks the plain of the goal line the play is over and it's a touchdown, right? Think of a player diving towards the pylon and losing the ball after it already crosses the goal line. That's ruled a touchdown. So what's the difference in Beckham's case?
Then there is the most confusing rule, the act of making a football move to determine if a catch is incomplete, complete, or complete and a fumble. This is the rule that seems to even confuse the refs. I've always thought the rule was control the ball and take two steps and its a catch. Or if you do that and have it knocked out of your hands by the defense, it's a fumble. But again, that isn't always the case, depending on how the rules are interpreted and who is interpreting them.
Dear NFL, please simplify this. Everybody agrees that replay has made the game better. But the over analysis of these close plays have led to mass confusion when it comes to the NFL's rules. Let's get back to when football was played and decided on the field. When a catch was a catch and a fumble was a fumble. You know, simpler times. Back before we couldn't interpret what the NFL's rules interpretations are.
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