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Catch Rule Remains A Gray Area

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The NFL have expanded the wording behind the rule, but confusion will remain.

Noah K. Murray-USA TODAY Sports

Do you know what constitutes a catch in the NFL?

That was a question posed numerous times last year, as time and time again we saw the rule bend, shift and transform, with nobody knowing for sure what constituted a completed pass and what didn't.

Fans weren't too sure. Players weren't too sure. Coaches weren't too sure and even referees didn't seem confident.

So to try and ensure there is less confusion in 2016, the working behind the rule has been expanded and reads as follows.

ARTICLE 3. COMPLETED OR INTERCEPTED PASS. A player who makes a catch may advance the ball. A forward pass is complete (by the offense) or intercepted (by the defense) if a player, who is inbounds:

(a) secures control of the ball in his hands or arms prior to the ball touching the ground; and

(b) touches the ground inbounds with both feet or with any part of his body other than his hands; and

(c) maintains control of the ball after (a) and (b) have been fulfilled, until he has the ball long enough to clearly become a runner. A player has the ball long enough to become a runner when, after his second foot is on the ground, he is capable of avoiding or warding off impending contact of an opponent, tucking the ball away, turning up field, or taking additional steps (see 3-2-7-Item 2).

Note: If a player has control of the ball, a slight movement of the ball will not be considered a loss of possession. He must lose control of the ball in order to rule that there has been a loss of possession.

If the player loses the ball while simultaneously touching both feet or any part of his body to the ground, it is not a catch.

The NFL have gone some way to confirming what a "football move" is. If you remember last year a player became a runner if he made a football move. This year they have expanded that to explain it in more details, but personally I still think this is all subjective and open to wide variations of interpretation by the referee in question.

So while the NFL have tried to expand on the rule to make it clearer, I still think there will be points this year where analysts are screaming about the lack of clarity surrounding what is and is not a catch.

I am thankful that the slight movement of the ball during the process of a catch will not be considered an incompletion. That always annoyed me to no end.