The confounding catch rule is the bane of many football fans' existence. Count NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell as one of those perturbed viewers fixated on simplifying and clarifying the rule this offseason.
"I'm not just somewhat concerned. I am concerned," Goodell told FOX Sports' Colin Cowherd on Monday, concerning the ambiguous standard. "We just had five Hall of Fame receivers and several coaches come in just two weeks ago to focus on the catch, no-catch rule -- how we bring clarity. And this is where the balance comes in. ... You want there to be clarity from an officiating standpoint, a coaching and player standpoint -- they know what it is or isn't. And so they draft the rule, the Competition Committee looks at it, they bring it to the membership, and they want that clarity. I think here you might have clarity in a large element of it, but then it's not the rule that people really want."
On many occasions this season -- at least three of which coincidentally involved and favored the AFC champion New England Patriots -- the catch rule drew major scrutiny for its conclusion and implementation.
The most notable of these instances came in the Game of the Year when Steelers tight end Jesse James' winning touchdown against the Pats was called back upon review after it was determined James did not survive the ground when reaching over the plane; New England sealed the win on a game-ending interception two plays later.
"One of our Hall of Fame receivers said it well to me when we looked at this a couple years ago: Fans want catches," Goodell explained. "...It's particularly in the going to the ground that has created a lot of the confusion because it's a different rule when you're going to the ground then when you're on the sideline or the end zone. And I think that's what we're focusing on.
"The Competition Committee is going to be bringing this up in February and March, and I hope we'll be able to address this in a way that will bring more clarity and, frankly, more excitement to this."