On the grand list of things Roger Goodell should be concerned about in terms of the NFL, the top item should definitely be “How to recoup the $30 million the league lost in ad revenue this past season,” which stemmed in no small part from national anthem protests.
Below that item on Goodell’s list should probably be “How to reverse the trend of declining viewership,” which also is related to national anthem protests.
After those two items, Goodell should probably find a way to improve officiating in the NFL.
A major point of contention in terms of officiating? To definitively answer what constitutes a catch.
While Goodell may never address the first two items on the hypothetical list, he does seem to be offering some modicum of concern over the issue of defining a catch in the NFL.
During an interview with FS1’s “The Herd with Colin Cowherd,” Goodell was asked just how concerned he was about the murky definition of an NFL reception.
“I’m not just somewhat concerned,” Goodell said. “I am concerned.”
The definition of a catch has been scrutinized for several years now.
In 2010, the rule about receivers needing to “survive the ground” was practically named after Lions superstar Calvin Johnson.
Same with Calvin Johnson, if this isn’t a catch then no way in hell James caught it either. Consistency pic.twitter.com/xO3KneLtMo
— 🇨🇻RIP Kobe Bryant🇨🇻🇬🇼🅙 (@mr_Iuares) December 18, 2017
In 2015, the definition of a catch again became scrutinized when what seemed like a catch by Cowboys receiver Dez Bryant in the playoffs against the Green Bay Packers was ultimately deemed incomplete.
On Jan 11, 2015, @DezBryant thought he caught the ball. Upon further review, the officials said he didn't.
“I was just reaching for the goal line, how is that not a catch?”
3 years later, we're still trying to figure out what a catch is, let alone if this was actually a catch. pic.twitter.com/F6MqdfqXq9
— Jeff Eisenband (@JeffEisenband) January 11, 2018
The topic again became a hot button issue when the New England Patriots benefited three times this season from the ever-evolving definition of a catch.
Pittsburgh Steelers tight end Jesse James had a potential game-winning touchdown taken away upon further review in a pivotal December game.
The Jesse James touchdown catch that wasn't… Looking back now, did the league get this call right? 🤔#NFL #Steelers #Patriots #PatriotsNation #SteelersNation #SteelersVsPatriots pic.twitter.com/5VBIZVUcVG
— RichInFacts (@RichInFacts) December 18, 2017
Just a few weeks later, the Buffalo Bills had a touchdown wiped off the board against the Patriots.
Com’on people. I’ll give you complaining about what is a catch over the Jesse James play but you don’t have an argument with the Kelvin Benjamin play. He didn’t get two feet down in bounds. Plain and simple. pic.twitter.com/Zqs25GKUjc
— AJ Turner (@atoj247) December 25, 2017
Of course, the Patriots also benefited when Brandin Cooks didn’t seem to survive the ground, and yet the play was ruled a catch and a touchdown, giving the Patriots a victory.
— TheInsideZone.com (@TheInsideZone) September 24, 2017
This was Brandin Cooks touchdown against the Texans pic.twitter.com/zhgTVD7YGQ
— Jaser Javed (@Jaser_Javed) December 18, 2017
It’s certainly a contentious issue among NFL fans, and this season it helped feed the conspiracy theories that the NFL favors the Patriots.
“You want there to be clarity from an officiating standpoint and a coaching and player standpoint,” Goodell said. “Here, you might have clarity in a large element of it, but what happens is that it’s not the rule that people really want.”
Goodell was referring to the fact the catch rule often takes touchdowns away. Goodell claimed “fans want catches” as opposed to incompletions.
“I hope we’ll be able to address this in a way that will bring more clarity and frankly more excitement to this,” Goodell said.
The league’s competition committee is slated to meet regularly over the next two months, with the definition of a catch surely to be discussed.
Goodell did not offer any concrete suggestions or ideas on how to fix the catch rule.
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