I’ve been agitating all week for the owners to take the reins of the sport over which they reign and do what the league office won’t regarding the catch rule. Namely, change it.
Not tweak the language or otherwise pretend to change the rule without changing it. Actually change it, making what Cowboys receiver Dez Bryant did in the playoffs against the Packers into, if/when it happens in the future, a catch.
In Arizona, I tried to lobby V.P. of officiating Dean Blandino, NFL executive V.P. of football operations Troy Vincent, and Competition Committee member Jeff Fisher to change the rule from a subjective test to an objective one. It didn’t work.
So when Cowboys owner Jerry Jones arrived at the set of PFT Live on NBC Sports Radio, I assumed I’d get one of the more influential members of NFL ownership to co-sign the notion that a new rule is needed. Not so.
“First of all, we know that just as these rules could go against you they could go with you, and we had a couple of other calls that went with us during the playoffs,” Jones said. “But since we have instant replay you really strive to get it right because you have a lot of time to look at it with instant replay. It was a catch, it just didn’t fall under the rules. . . . Those are the kinds of rules that I think need to be reconciled with more of reality. Did he catch it, or did he not catch it? Well, he caught the ball, we all know in any definition there is except the rules of the NFL. I live with it though because we live with a lot of rules that have those caveats.”
While Jones ultimately says all the right things from the league’s perspective, lurking in his response is a concession that the rule indeed should be “reconciled more with reality.” The only thing that seems to be keeping Jones from flat-out revolting against the rule is the likelihood that, the next time around, he’ll potentially benefit from it.
“Well, obviously everybody that makes decisions on these rules know that the same thing could happen against them,” Jones said. “Everybody has to play offense and everybody has to catch the ball. And so it really is an attempt by very knowledgeable people, very focused people to try to come up with the most competitive way to make these calls and so there was no club bias when we were sitting there. Now, we had a little bias because we had visions of Super Bowl if we make that catch. But still, I’m totally satisfied that every rule we’ve got is an attempt to do the best job for competitiveness, which in turn does it for the fans.”
If Jones, whose team was burned by the rule in a high-profile setting, ultimately is satisfied with the language, maybe everyone else should be, too. Still, it’s not good for the NFL to have a disconnect between what we see — that Bryant, as Jones said, caught the ball — and what the rules later tell us that we saw.
For the full conversation with Jones, click the thing in the thing below.