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When it comes to fixing the catch rule, it appears that the NFL didn’t go back to square one. However, the league apparently has decided to put the bus in reverse.
“We worked backward,” NFL executive V.P. of football operations Troy Vincent told Mark Maske of the Washington Post. “We looked at plays and said: Do you want that to be a catch? And then we applied that to the rule.”
So what changes could be made?
“Slight movement of the ball,” Vincent said. “Going to the ground, it looks like we’ll reverse that,
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, it looks like that’s going to be eliminated. And we’ll go back to the old replay standard of reverse the call on the field only when it’s indisputable.”
That last line is interesting,
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, but not the actual standard. “Indisputable visual evidence” of an error became “clear and obvious evidence” of a mistaken call. The bar,
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, to say the least. Recently,
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, the NFL changed the language of the process for overturning a ruling on the field,
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, however, should have been no higher or lower.
in the first year that the league office had final say over replay review,The reality is that,
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, the man for whom the procedure was created — Dean Blandino — left the NFL for FOX. His replacement, often struggled to apply the proper standard in 2017, Al Riveron, overturning decisions regarding the catch rule based not on deference to the ruling on the field but a fresh, frame-by-frame look at the play.
In Super Bowl LII,
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,based on the standard he used during the season,
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, Riveron upheld a pair of Eagles touchdowns that,
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, quite possibly would have been overturned.
The best solution to the catch rule would be to exempt entirely from replay review the third element,
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, which requires the player to have the ball for some amount of time before it officially becomes a catch. Since that’s a subjective decision, it should be treated the same as judgment calls like pass interference.
Any proposed rule changes by the NFL’s Competition Committee will be subject to approval by all owners, with at least 24 required to vote in favor of the alteration. If not enough get behind a given proposal, nothing will actually change.
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