Commissioner Roger Goodell wants to explore ways to improve the catch/no-catch rule. And multiple players want to assist the process.
In addition to Dez Bryant, who knows all about making a great catch in a key moment and finding out it wasn’t a catch after all, another guy who has learned the hard way the unintended consequences of the language crafted after former Bucs receiver Bert Emanuel had the ball touch the ground during a potentially critical reception in the 1999 NFC title game and be ruled in incomplete wants to help.
“I mean, definitely,” receiver Calvin Johnson said Wednesday. “If someone asked me, I definitely would.”
For Johnson, the nuances of the rule prevented the Lions from beating the Bears in Week One of the 2010 season, when a late touchdown reception by Johnson was wiped off the board because he was going to the ground when making the catch, which made the catch invalid because he left the ball on the ground as he sprang up to celebrate.
“I mean, it’s almost common sense,” Johnson said. “If a guy catches the ball and tucks it away, or if it’s just controlling it through movement, whether he hits the ground and the ball is controlled. . . . They say you’ve got to take a couple steps or whatever, I kind of agree with that, but at the same time, there’s sometimes when it’s a gray line and it’s almost common sense, a lot of those ones that they might miss.”
Players like Johnson and Bryant provide an excellent perspective, and it will be hard for any new rule to have credibility if current players aren’t involved. Given the specific language selected by Goodell when he first mentioned the possibility, there may not be a seat at the table for current players.
“A couple weeks ago, I asked several football personnel, including former G.M.’s, current G.M.’s, current individuals, former players, former officials, to come together and try to see if we can study this and come up with some proposals for the Competition Committee to consider,” Goodell said. “We want clarity to that. We want to find a better solution if it’s out there.”
He never said “current players.” Hopefully, that was simply an oversight.