February 16, 2019

NFL Story
By Art Spander, The Sports Xchange
Publish Date: January 31, 2018 07:34:07 PM

Goodell wants to catch as catch can

MINNEAPOLIS - The National Football League was created in August 1920, virtually 98 years ago. You'd think by now they'd have figured out what constitutes a catch.
But, given the controversies of the past season, it's apparent the issue remains debatable. And maybe unsolvable.
As even commissioner Roger Goodell all but conceded Thursday at his annual state of the league address.
Yes, there were questions asked about the Rooney Rule. About Colin Kaepernick's lack of employment. About the Raiders losing one of the home games from their closing seasons in Oakland to Mexico.
And naturally about the league taking a stand against a failure to stand for the national anthem.
But the most intriguing question of the annual pre-Super Bowl session that a couple years back was shifted from Friday to Wednesday -- why ruin a weekend confronting journalists? -- was how to define a catch, particularly on plays when the receiver seems to grasp the ball then loses control of it when he hits the turf.
Which is what happened in Pittsburgh, Dec. 17, when Steelers tight end Jesse James, tumbling, stretched forward. The ball crossed the plane, if James' body did not, but quickly enough it came loose. New England would win the game, if not the argument that James didn't score. A day or two later, after a zillion replays, the NFL said the ruling was correct.
What, you expected differently?
That said, Goodell wants to fix the problem with a major correction.
"From our standpoint, I would like to start back, instead of adding to the rule, subtracting the rule, said Goodell. "Start over again and look at the rule fundamentally from the start. Because I think when you add or subtract things you can still lead to confusion. These rules are very complex -- you have to look at what the unintended consequences are of making a change, which is what the Competition Committee, in my view, does so well and with so much thought."
The commissioner said he had a meeting with five Hall-of-Fame receivers and a few coaches to gain a viewpoint.
"When we went through these 150 plays just a couple of weeks ago," he said, "we had Hall of Famers in there and when you say it makes sense, there are a lot of people who have different perspectives on that.
"There's a lot of disagreement in the room on what a catch was and wasn't. People with great football experience can disagree on that."
Other items:
--Goodell was asked why the Raiders have to play so many international games, especially considering fans are losing their team to Las Vegas soon.
"It's part of what we all agreed as 32 clubs, which is what dictates that we want to continue to share our game on a global basis. ... That comes with sacrifices from time to time with home games. The Raiders have had more recently, that's a fact, that's correct."
He said the league respects Raiders fans, but the international games are part of the sacrifice."
Asked about Kaepernick, the former San Francisco 49ers quarterback who went unsigned this season after last year's protests during the anthem, Goodell said, "I've been very clear on this before that all the clubs individually have to make their own decisions."
Asked why there are so few men of color as NFL head coaches, Goodell answered, "What we need to do is continue the work on developing that pipeline. Getting the right kind of coaches with the right kind of experience to hire."
And regarding rules on players standing for the anthem?
He said, "I don't know what we'll consider in the offseason. We're still trying to get through the Super Bowl.

All Times Eastern