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Former NFL officials supervisor says replay got catch reversal correct

Like it or not, the NFL catch rule makes for consistent calls.



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.

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?"