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Lions fans question 'Calvin Johnson rule' in chat with Goodell

Forget about the lockout. When Detroit Lions fans chatted with NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell on Thursday, they seemed more interested in discussing the rule that overturned Calvin Johnson's apparent game-winning touchdown catch in their team's season-opening loss to the Chicago Bears last year.

As reported in the Detroit Free Press, Goodell touched on a number of subjects during a 30-minute conference call with Lions season-ticket holders, but he disagreed with the fans' contention that the Johnson rule, in which officials determined the receiver didn't have possession of the ball before losing it as he went to celebrate, is unfair.

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"What people want is consistency in the rules," Goodell said. "Any time there's judgment, that's when you sometimes get the inconsistency. If you're a fan from one team, you're looking at it from one perspective. If you're a fan from another team, you're looking at it from another perspective. You want to try to make it as black-and-white as possible, and you want to make sure it's as consistent as possible from game to game."

Still, the questioning continued, and Goodell further explained the rule.

"There are really three elements to any catch," he said. "No. 1, you've got to secure and control the ball in your hands. And No. 2, you've got to maintain control when you've got two feet down, or any other part of the body other than your hands. And No. 3 is you have to make sure that -- and this clarification we'll add to the (rule) book -- you must control the ball long enough after A and B have occurred that you've caught the ball cleanly and you've got two feet down or another body part, you've got to control that long enough. And that's something we have oftentimes looked at in our rules."

Other topics discussed were similar to those raised on other conference calls -- Goodell has spoken to fans of roughly half of the 32 teams this offseason. Goodell reiterated his stance that the labor dispute between owners and players needs to be resolved through collective bargaining, and he said there isn't a drop-dead date at which time the 2011 season would be in jeopardy and there hasn't been talk of replacement players. He also said the league will look to have "reasonable" free-agency rules in place for 2011.

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