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NFL committee to recommend rule change for catches

New York Giants' Sterling Shepard, left, against Philadelphia

New York Giants' Sterling Shepard, left, against Philadelphia Eagles' Rasul Douglas on Sept. 24, 2017, in Philadelphia. Credit: AP / Matt Rourke

The question that has beguiled NFL players, fans and officials for the last few seasons — What is a catch? — may have a new answer as soon as next week.

Al Riveron, the league’s senior vice president of officiating, announced on Wednesday the Competition Committee will recommend simplifying the language of the catch rule and present those changes at the annual league meeting next week in Orlando, Florida.

The proposed definition will include three criteria: control of the ball, two feet down or any other body part, and a football move (such as a third step, extending the ball for a touchdown or first down, or the ability to perform such an act).

Eliminated would be the mandate that control of the football must “survive the ground.” In other words, plays like the ones by the Cowboys’ Dez Bryant in the 2014 playoffs or by Steelers tight end Jesse James against the Patriots last season would be ruled completions. The same for the tumbling catch by Sterling Shepard of the Giants in the end zone against the Eagles in Week 3 last season.

There still will be plenty for viewers and players to bicker over. And there likely will be gray areas that no one can foresee popping up into controversies. If the new rule is passed, though, it will be a victory for eye tests and common sense over the slow-motion analysis that has bugged observers for years.

New York Sports