The NFL’s most recent effort to fix the catch rule included the crafting of an objective test for satisfying the all-important third element of the rule. Subjectivity, though not entirely eliminated, has been enhanced by objective examples of satisfying the requirement that the ball be possessed for a specific amount of time.
The two examples cited by the league in passing the catch rule were taking a third step or reaching or extending the ball toward the line to gain. But the final rule identifies other concrete ways in which the player will be deemed to have possessed the ball long enough to complete a catch.
They are: Tucking the ball away; turning upfield; or avoiding or warding off an opponent.
The subject aspect of the catch rule remains, allowing the official to award a catch if the official simply believes that the player had the time to do something that he actually didn’t attempt to do. With five specific “acts common to the game” now listed in the rule as automatic devices for satisfying the time element, there isn’t much else a pass catcher could do short of stand still or immediately fall down during whatever time is deemed to be necessarily to have the ball long enough to complete the act of catching the ball.