The NFL’s Updated Catch Rule Is Even More Arbitrary And Confusing Than It Was Before



Fuck you, NFL!

That’s what I find myself yelling at my computer screen after seeing the new language that the league released this week to update a few of its rules, with the biggest effort coming to clarify what actually constitutes a catch.

Here’s the update language, per NFL writer Kevin Seifert’s Twitter, which he highlighted in red:

To paraphrase the new rule from the official rulebook, here’s what the NFL’s saying will constitute a catch, with the updated language bolded and italicized:

(c) maintains control of the ball after (a) and (b) have been fulfilled, until he has the ball long enough to clearly become a runner. A player has the ball long enough to become a runner when, after his second foot is on the ground, he is capable of avoiding or warding off impending contact of an opponent, tucking the ball away, turning up field, or taking additional steps (see 3-2-7-Item 2). Note: If a player has control of the ball, a slight movement of the ball will not be considered a loss of possession. He must lose control of the ball in order to rule that there has been a loss of possession. If the player loses the ball while simultaneously touching both feet or any part of his body to the ground, it is not a catch.

Now, the NFL Rulebook is a 217-page bible that has a bunch of things in it that most fans probably don’t want to read, but the fact that the league just made what should be the simplest call of all—catching a football—more arbitrary is absolutely ridiculous.

How the hell are refs supposed to figure out the exact moment that a pass-catching player has made himself a runner, and then made himself avoid taking a hit from an opponent? Even typing that out seemed confusing.

Way to go, NFL, you’ve just successfully caused millions of football-loving fans to be even more confused, and they aren’t even drunk at a game right now.

[H/T Deadspin]