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Former NFL officials supervisor says replay got catch reversal correct

Former NFL officials and assistant supervisor Jim Daopoulos says the NFL catch rules are very clear and replay got it right by reversing the Jesse James touchdown catch to incomplete.

Speaking on the Bernstein and Goff Show on WSCR-AM, The Score in Chicago, Daopoulos said the NFL replay office got the unpopular rule correct. “The rule is very simply explained. It was done correctly, but for some reason people can’t grasp the idea that a potential receiver going to the ground has to hold on to the ball,” Daopoulos explained.

It’s so simple when you see it as an official and you know exactly what he’s got to do. He’s got to hold on to the football. It’s not like he’s a runner. He’s not running into the end zone. He’s not a runner because he doesn’t have possession of the ball. He has to establish himself as a runner and he doesn’t do that when he’s going to the ground and loses possession of the football.

Daopoulos added that NFL simplified the catch rule over the years to make it more uniform. “It’s very simple; hold on to the football when you’re going to the ground,” he added.

Referring to the James catch, Daopoulos said the game sometimes goes faster than human perception.

The officials thought he caught the ball. But, we have this technology now where we almost micromanage the game. People expect the NFL to be 100% correct all the time. So we have that technology to look in there and see things the naked eye can’t see. And they can slow things down, and they can watch the ball, and see the ball as it hits the ground. And, he loses possession ever so slightly. The eyes think it’s a catch but when replay shows the ball move, it’s an incomplete pass.

So there you have it. Daopoulos, who has no skin in the game, says the NFL correctly applied the catch rule to the James catch review.

Daopoulos also makes a great point about making the rule simple and high-definition television. “The catch rule is simple and specific to take judgement out of the call,” he said. “There is no ‘close enough’ to judge whether it is a catch or not. The rule gives the official no wiggle room. Do you want one catch ruled  close enough one week and incomplete another week? Some think calls are inconsistent today.”

If Al Riveron and crew had reviewed the James catch with analog television, the fuzzy video may not have given an indisputable visual evidence to overturn.  

Fans want consistency across the board, and they want replay to properly enforce the rules. The NFL wants that, too, even though many fans disagree with how it’s done — which is indisputable.

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Mark Schultz
Mark Schultz is a high school football official, freelance writer and journalist. He first became interested in officiating when he was six years old, was watching a NFL game with his father and asked the fateful question, "Dad, what are those guys in the striped shirts doing?"

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4 thoughts on “Former NFL officials supervisor says replay got catch reversal correct

  1. Even with HD there is not indisputable proof the ball hit the ground. I’m sorry. It’s just not there without some kind of assumption. Doesn’t matter how “correctly” it was called. The level of proof needed was not met.

  2. I’ve seen very few people arguing that they got the call wrong according to the rule.

    Most of the arguments that I’ve seen have been that the rule itself is bad or counter-intuitive. In this play, you have a receiver cleanly catch a pass and then, with a knee down, lunge (a football move, in a lot of people’s eyes) for the end zone breaking the plane with control, only losing it after. I think the natural expectation is that the play should be over at that point.

    Theoretically there’s more consistency in the way the rule is written now, but with Alberto Riveron embarrassing himself all year in the Replay Center, the consistency remains theoretical.

    I think it’s at least worth looking into a change to the rule that would apply to plays in the end zone and the goal line without setting us up for a bunch of cheap catch/fumbles in the playing field.

  3. “Daopoulos added that NFL simplified the catch rule over the years” This claim is patently ridiculous. Here is an article that clerly shows how the catch rule in the NFL has evolved from a very short and simple rule to an increasingly incomprehensible multi-paragraph mess:

    The real problem isn’t in the enforcement of the rules, it is in the rules themselves. Which, as currently interpreted, violate the common-sense definition of catching a football (and, in this case, scoring a touchdown) that fans have known all of their lives. Reducing both actions to a mush of seemingly arcane distinctions and arbitrarily added actions that feel as if they conflict with the way other rules and actions in the game work.

    These rules, and the way they’re interpreted, in fact seem to be tremendously unpopular with almost everyone but refs, rulemakers, and the league office. Fans howl over and over again that they hate the rules and the way they’re enforced, and every year since 2010 (and the infamously horrendous Calvin Johnson call) there seem to be several controversies involving these rules where most fans clearly feel that the rules led to an unfair call being made.

    So the bigger question is, since the game is played for the fans (indeed, there is no league without the fans), and since the overwhelming majority of fans clearly hate these rules and would like to go back to the old rules, why does the NFL continue to battle its own fans and refuse to address or change the rules?

    Two feet (or other body part) on the ground + possession = catch. Any part of ball in possession goes across front of goal line = touchdown. Touchdown (possession across the goal line or in the end zone) = play over, ball dead. WTH was wrong with that? This is what most fans are asking, and what most fans want to return to. I’m not sure why refs like Daopoulos, or the league office, or the folks who write for sites like this one, just can’t seem to understand that.

  4. Al, using your terms, what is possession? Is it two hands on the ball? Then the helmet catch, and any one-handed catch would not fit that definition.
    If control is needed for possession of the ball to occur, what is control? Is it written down somewhere for all to see so that there are no disputes? If the league defines control as X, then X is what should be used..
    But possession is a subjective term at best. Your definition of possession is slightly different than mine, so we will never agree 100%. Officials try to agree as much as possible, but there will be some times when they won’t.

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