In recent days, I've been stewing about writing some stuff on the NFL lockout, and rules. I've held off because this stuff is ongoing and it changes almost daily, so I've held my keyboard at bay. But, today, with a comment on the Jim Tressel resignation a must, I decided to double dip, and get to the NFL too.
This will be about being consistent with regard to rules and rulings by the league and their officials during games. There were a number of rules clarified or changed recently. This article concerns only one. It has been determined by the league to now give officials some lee-way in their interpretation of the blow to the head of the quarterback during a pass rush. If the hit is deemed non malicious, or just accidental during the course of a football play, or a glancing blow, there will be no penalty. It is up to the officials judgement in these instances. I want it noted that I have no issue with this rule change. I have faith in the officials to use their best judgement. While I know that there will be an occasion that I will disagree with a call thats made in the future, it is the officials judgement. I might not like his judgement, but I have no issue with the rule.
That being said, why can't the league do the same with the interpretation about whether a catch is a catch. Yes, friends I have not given up on the catch that was ruled not a catch by the Lions Calvin Johnson in last seasons opener in Chicago. I won't give up on this one forever, because it was a catch. I knew it was a catch, the Bears knew it was a catch, Calvin knew it was a catch, the Bears fans knew it was a catch, the only people that didn't know it was a catch was the NFL.
While there is an exhaustive explanation in the rule book about what criteria must be met to actually catch a football in bounds in the NFL, there should also be a "smell test." Or, as I call it, "a commen sense test." This test is no more complicated than giving an official his own judgement to rule on a catch. If the play needs to go to replay, and meet the criteria set down by a bunch of lawyers, fine, do it. But, there are plays that don't require that. The CJ catch in Chicago did not require a replay review. The "smell test" confirmed that it was a catch, and no replay will convince me otherwise.
So why not allow officials to use their judgment on a catch, just like they have now allowed officials to use their judgement on a blow to the head of a quarterback. Lets be consistent gang! Even the commissioner recently tried to tell everyone that the non catch rule on Calvin in Chicago was the proper call. Sorry commissioner, stick to the bargaining table and the labor dispute between the players and owners, you'll make more progress there because you're wrong on the catch discusssion.
Officials use their judgement on lots of things during games, interference and holding to name two, why not allow them to use their judgement on catch's like CJ's in Chicago. The precedent has already been set, the league is allowing officials to use their judement on certain calls, and they have added the blow to the head of a quarterback this season. Lets be consistent, trust your officials.
If the crew agrees to go to a replay on a catch to make sure, fine, let them do it, but, if in their judgement, like in the instance of Calvin in Chicago, the catch is OK to the naked eye, let their judgement prevail. The replay is a tool to get the call right, not make the right call wrong.