No Calvin Johnson catch rule for 2011

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It was the subject of national scrutiny for the month of September and beyond. The term “process of the catch” became a popular phrase in the NFL media and inside sports bars and living rooms throughout the country. Thanks to the call on the field, thousands of football fans learned the rule that a player must maintain possession of the football throughout the process of the catch and the ball could not move when the player’s body hit the ground.

More importantly than rule clarity, Calvin Johnson’s no-catch in the back of the end zone in Week 1 of the 2010 NFL season enabled the Bears to hold on to a victory that many in the country — some Bears fans included — feel the Bears didn’t deserve. Had the Bears lost, who knows what kind of snowball effect it would have had on their NFC North championships season.

Fortunately for those fans who didn’t know about the “process of the catch” rule and had to learn the hard way last year, they won’t have to learn a new rule this year. The NFL’s competition committee will not change the rule, but will clarify it.

Says Falcons president and chairman of the competition committee Rich McKay: “Would Calvin Johnson’s be a catch under 2011 rules? Our answer would be no.

“We confirmed a rule that has been there for more than 70 years which basically says there are three elements to a catch. Secure the ball in your hands; maintain control when have you two feet down or any body part other than the hands (are down); and we will write it into the rules that you must control the ball long enough after ‘A’ and ‘B’ (to) enable you to perform any act common to the game. That doesn’t mean you have to perform the act, but must have the ability to.”

I’m glad to hear that they’re standing firm on this ruling despite the public outcry throughout last season. So many fans and analysts were confident the league would change the rule, but I felt it wasn’t necessary to change it; just to clarify when the process ends, which is exactly what they’re doing.

Click here to read my column from Sept. 13, 2010, addressing the Calvin Johnson no-catch, why the “process of the catch” rule is in place, and why it needs clarification.

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