NFL Reception Rule Needs To Change

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NFL Reception Rule Needs To Change
(Photo by Chris McGrath/Getty Images)

I'm really sick and tired of this rule that a receiver must maintain possession all the way to the ground and maintain perfect control of the ball as well. This is an awful rule for offensive players, and the fans, and it wasn't this way up until a few years back. As far as the offensive players go, they are the stars of the game and the reason why most people watch. Let's not make it absurdly difficult to make an acrobatic catch. I mean, come on, you jump up in the air risking getting hit so hard you may be paralyzed and never walk again, or get hit so hard in the head that you get a concussion and perhaps never remember your family and friends again. Okay, maybe that's a bit extreme but any of you that saw Anquan Boldin get hit against the Jets last year know that these receivers are at risk. So, after you jump up in the air, you catch the ball, you get hit hard, you get two feet down on the ground with possession, and let's say you manage to withstand all that and now as you are falling on your head, or on your elbow, or on your wrist, or on your back, whatever, you need to make sure no part of the ball hits the ground and don't even try to brace yourself and avoid injury, because if that ball moves you've lost everything you worked for and you've put your body on the line for nothing. Well, you do get the potential 6 minutes of replay time to watch yourself make a sensational catch while taking serious abuse on a 99% perfect play only to have someone in stripes say, "At the last second when the receiver landed on his head, the ball moved a 1/4 inch and thus the pass is incomplete".

What always bothers me about this rule is that it seems to contradict or at least not be consistent with the age old "ground cannot cause a fumble" rule. In the case of that rule, you get tackled, you fall to the ground, and the ball pops out when you hit the ground, and it is not a fumble. Nothing is lost, no problem, no one cares, no big deal. However if you had just caught the ball, you'd be out of luck, and it would be a problem, it would be an incomplete pass if the ground knocked the ball out of your hands. So, in one case, you catch the ball, establish possession with two feet on the ground, are hit to the ground, and you can be punished for losing the ball. You can be dispossessed. In the other case, you get hit to the ground, and you can't be punished for losing the ball. You cannot be dispossessed. Quite contradictory in my mind, and one of these rules happens to suck for QB's and their receivers.

Of course, the ground can actually cause a fumble as we have occasionally seen when the ground knocks the ball out of your hand before you are tackled such as when a receiver uses his ball hand to stabilize himself to avoid falling to the ground. However, that's neither here nor there.

Anyway, I'd like to see the "catch rule" changed to possession with two feet on the ground establishing the catch.

Next time I'll talk about the rule that says when a WR catches a ball in the air he can be pushed out of bounds resulting in an incomplete pass.....

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