Ravens Owner Steve Bisciotti Says NFL's Catch Rule Is 'Stupid'


Twice during Super Bowl LII, touchdown catches by the Philadelphia Eagles were put under the microscope of NFL (and nationwide) review.

Broadcaster Cris Collinsworth didn't think running back Corey Clement adequately possessed a touchdown pass in the back of the end zone. Then everyone was left wondering what the call would be on tight end Zach Ertz's game-winning catch and dive over the goal line.

Both times, it was a debate between common sense versus the literal interpretation of the rules. And both times, the league office upheld the call on the field. They were catches.

But the sheer debate over the play – the consternation that even Collinsworth showed – is exactly the point. Determining what is and what is not a catch these days in the NFL is nearly impossible.

And you can count Ravens Owner Steve Bisciotti among those flummoxed by what constitutes a catch in the NFL.

"The whole thing is stupid," Bisciotti said Friday, shaking his head.

A week ago, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said he's concerned about the catch rule, and wants it simplified and clarified for everyone involved – referees, players, coaches and fans. Bisciotti agrees.

"Start over. It's just ridiculous," he said.

"Every time you've talked about referees, I've always defended them. It is such a hard job, they do such a good job, and yet we're sitting there looking at five different HD camera angles, and then they're changing some things, and I think it's worse than it's ever been. I think sometimes things have to get really, really bad before there is change."

The Ravens, thankfully, were not involved with any major catch or no-catch controversies during the 2017 season, but the Week 15 Patriots-Pittsburgh Steelers reversed touchdown to tight end Jesse James certainly grabbed everyone's attention. Bisciotti referred to it Friday.

Quarterback Joe Flacco was just about the only person who felt he had a good feel for the rule (he predicted on the team plane that James' touchdown would be waived off). Flacco was arguing with his teammates about whether it was a catch.

What constitutes a catch will be under heavy debate during the NFL's owners meetings in Orlando in late March. The league's competition committee, of which General Manager Ozzie Newsome is a member, will craft new language.

"I bet you that there is going to be a significant change in that," Bisciotti said. "A football move? I mean, how you can catch the ball, get both feet down, turn towards the end zone and start diving for it, and they say it's not a football move? No. It's stupid."

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