Commissioner Roger Goodell didn’t include Cowboys receiver Dez Bryant on the committee of current and former players who consulted with the NFL in an effort to redefine the catch rule. Bryant nevertheless remains very interested in the process.
Via Charean Williams of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, Bryant said he saw the controversial play in the divisional round, in which Cardinals receiver Larry Fitzgerald appeared to be going to the ground before completing the catch, losing possession once he landed out of bounds.
“The NFL is still trying to figure out what a catch is,” Bryant said regarding the play. “Whenever they figure that out, hopefully they’ll let me know.”
As Williams notes, Fitzgerald’s catch didn’t look much different than Bryant’s non-catch from the divisional round a year earlier. Both caught the ball. Both took multiple steps. Both turned their bodies. Unlike Fitzgerald, Bryant cradled the ball in his arm and lunged with it toward the goal line.
Both were ruled completions on the field. Bryant’s was overturned. Fitzgerald’s wasn’t, with NFL V.P. of officiating Dean Blandino explaining that there was not indisputable visual evidence showing Fitzgerald hadn’t satisfied the rule that requires the receiver to transition to a runner, based primarily on a vague, subjective element of time.
Under that reasoning, Bryant’s catch shouldn’t have been overturned, either. While there’s nothing the league can do to fix that now, the interpretation that was applied in Fitzgerald’s case could be the best way to apply a clumsy rule unless and until the rule is made to be less clumsy.