National Football League sets new definition for controversial catch rule

Pittsburgh Steelers tight end Jesse James catches a pass then twists to stretch the ball into the end zone for a touchdown against the New England Patriots with seconds remaining in the fourth quarter of an NFL football game in Pittsburgh Sunday Dec. 17

NFL Executive Vice President of Football Operations Troy Vincent said Tuesday that the league is closing in on clarifying its controversial catch rule. The proposal will include modifications two notorious points of interest: movement of the ball and the going-to-the-ground requirement.

The changes would also do away with the rule that slight movement of the ball in a receiver's hands negates a catch, Vincent said.

"The Dez Bryant play, that'd be a catch [under the new rule]", Vincent said.

The NFL experienced both controversy and low ratings last season - and not just because of the catch rule. The committee plans to propose the removal of the provisions related to the receiver going to the ground with the football and to the slight movement of the football in the receiver's hands.

Changes to the National Football League catch rule could result in more fair catches next season and far less confusion about what is and isn't a completed reception.

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James reached the ball over the goal line, but it moved when it hit the ground, which caused the replay official to overturn it. And then we applied that to the rule.

The replay standard for overturning what was initially ruled a reception will be "indisputable" video evidence, rather than "clear and obvious", Vincent said.

The reality is that, in the first year that the league office had final say over replay review, the man for whom the procedure was created - Dean Blandino - left the NFL for FOX.

Last season, Pittsburgh Steelers tight end Jesse James appeared to catch the go-ahead touchdown on 1st-and-goal with 28 seconds remaining in a Week 15 game against the New England Patriots.

Commissioner Roger Goodell has reportedly made the catch rule a major focus this offseason, seeking greater clarity after opening dialogue with former and current players and coaches.

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