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The 5 O'Clock Club: The NFL looks at the catch rule... again

It’s 5 o’clock somewhere… and the NFL is also planning to go ‘old school’ on instant replay, and considering going ‘retro’ on pass interference penalties

NFL: New England Patriots at Pittsburgh Steelers Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

The 5 o’clock club aims to provide a forum for reader-driven discussion at a time of day when there isn’t much NFL news being published. Feel free to introduce topics that interest you in the comments below.

Firstly, regarding the catch rule recommendation:

On Twitter, Riveron shared the committee’s recommendation that a player should be deemed to have caught a ball when they have control, two feet/another body part down and a football move. The football move is further defined as a third step, reaching or extending the ball for the line to-gain or “the ability to perform such an act.”

There’s nothing in there about going to the ground, which was a contentious part of the rule in recent years. The subjectiveness of the third part of the football move portion of the rule in particular seems ripe for similar contentiousness, however, and it remains to be seen how Riveron will be handling any replay challenges centered on that or determination of the first two parts.

Secondly, regarding instant replay:

NFL executive vice president of football operations Troy Vincent said this week that the league will “go back to the old replay standard of reverse the call on the field only when it’s indisputable,” something many felt wasn’t the case on many Riveron-led reviews during the regular season.

Thirdly, regarding pass interference penalties:

According to Kevin Seifert of, Vincent said changing pass interference from a spot foul to a 15-yard maximum penalty has “momentum” despite not being officially endorsed by the competition committee.

It has some momentum,” Vincent said. “That has some momentum. We had good discussion in the room. It will be interesting when we get with the coaches. … I don’t want to get ahead of it, but I can tell you this: It had momentum in the room among the competition committee.”

College football uses the 15-yard pass interference penalty instead of the spot foul. The downside of the rule is that defenders can maul open receivers deep downfield knowing that the penalty is only 15 yards instead allowing a 40-, 50-, or 60-yard touchdown. The benefit would be that an offensive player can’t flop his way to a pass interference call that benefits a trailing offensive team disproportionally.

I’ll give my opinion on the third item here. The pass interference rule is correct as written now. If it’s limited to 15-yards, then it becomes an open invitation for DBs to mug receivers once they get more than 20 yards downfield. You see it now in the end zone, where corners and safties will tackle a receiver to put the ball on the one-yard line instead of giving up the touchdown. This rule should not be changed.


Poll Question #1: Will this new wording bring sufficient clarity to the catch rule?

This poll is closed

  • 29%
    (42 votes)
  • 70%
    (99 votes)
141 votes total Vote Now


Poll Question #2: How do you feel about the idea that the league "will go back to the old replay standard of ‘reverse the call on the field only when it’s indisputable’"?

This poll is closed

  • 51%
    That’s the right idea
    (74 votes)
  • 11%
    That’s the wrong direction
    (16 votes)
  • 37%
    It doesn’t matter what the rules committee & owners say, the refs will find a way to screw it up
    (54 votes)
144 votes total Vote Now


Poll Question #3: What should happen with the pass interference rule?

This poll is closed

  • 65%
    Leave it as it is currently written
    (96 votes)
  • 34%
    Change it to a 15-yard penalty
    (51 votes)
147 votes total Vote Now