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NFL Owners Vote Unanimously On Changes to Catch Rule

If only the new rules were in place for Jesse James and Dez Bryant.

The NFL owners voted unanimously on Tuesday to make the proposed changes to the catch rule, the league announced.

It was reported last week that the competition committee proposed changes to the controversial rule that has drawn scrutiny from many, particularly receivers who have had plays overturned due to the vagueness of the old rules.

The new rule defines a catch as:

1. Control of the ball.

2. Two feet down or another body part.

3. A football move such as: 

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• A third step;

• Reaching/extending for the line-to-gain

• Or the ability to perform such an act.

Under the new rule, once a receiver has control of the ball, any slight movement in the receiver's hands will not lead to an incompletion, but if a receiver is going to the ground at the time of the catch, he will need to maintain control for it to be ruled complete.

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This means that the controversial incompletions by Dez Bryant in the 2014 Divisional round game between the Cowboys and Packers and the one by Jesse James in last season's Week 15 contest between the Steelers and Patriots would have both been ruled completions under the new rule.

In addition to the catch rule, the league also made changes that allow for the a member of the officiating department to tell refs on the field if players should be ejected from games for non-football acts that are penalized on the field, players on injured reserve to be traded and changes the 10-day postseason claiming period to a 24-hour period along with others.