NFL owners approve new catch rule

The NFL has completed the catch.

By a 32-0 vote Tuesday, NFL owners approved a simplification of the standards for a legal catch, among the more controversial playing rules in recent years. The vote took place at the annual March owners meeting.

The league spent the last two years deconstructing what constitutes a reception, then rebuilding that rule from scratch with the input of several current and former coaches and players.

Under the new rule, a receiver must:


  1. Control the ball.
  2. Get two feet down (or another body part).
  3. Make a football move, whether taking another step or reaching the ball toward the goal line or yard marker. Such a football move would not be required if the catch were made in the end zone.

Gone are the “surviving the ground” and “slight movement of the ball” stipulations that wiped out so many apparent receptions in past seasons.
“We want to take these great catches and make them into catches,” Al Riveron, the NFL’s head of officiating, said a day before the balloting.

Also on Tuesday, the league made permanent the rule that changes spotting touchbacks at the 25-yard line, and authorized a designated member of the league’s officiating department in New York to decide to eject a player remotely for a flagrant non-football act when a foul for that act is called on the field.

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