Dallas Cowboys

What’s the definition of a catch? Don’t ask Cowboys WR Dez Bryant

Cowboys wide receiver Dez Bryant (88) had his 41-yard catch overturned in a divisional playoff game at Lambeau Field.
Cowboys wide receiver Dez Bryant (88) had his 41-yard catch overturned in a divisional playoff game at Lambeau Field. AP

Dez Bryant returns to Lambeau Field 20 months later still trying to figure out the definition of a catch. The NFL has tweaked its catch rule twice since Bryant’s controversial catch/no-catch in the divisional round of the 2014 playoffs.

Yet, it remains unclear.

“They need to still work on it, because I’ve seen a lot of stuff where how is that a catch and that’s not a catch,” Bryant said Wednesday. “So, you know, I hope they do a better job. If they need my input, I’m here. Pretty sure lot of guys would want to get involved in that. Hopefully they’ll get it.”

The NFL formed a six-member committee in December to review Rule 8, Article 3. The committee met with Jordy Nelson, Randy Moss, Chad Lewis, Cris Carter, Steve Largent, Fred Biletnikoff and Tim Brown.

The 2016 rule book was tweaked to read a pass is completed when the receiver “maintains control of the ball … 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 contract of an opponent, tucking the ball away, turning up field, or taking additional steps.”

In other words, the definition is no clearer.

“I’m on that [competition] committee, so shame on me,” Cowboys executive vice president Stephen Jones said on Sirius XM NFL Radio. “But, no, I don’t [think the rule is cleared up]. I think it’s still a very frustrating rule. Obviously with the technology that we have today, the high definition, the replays, the camera angles, the number of camera angles we have can be a very frustrating thing in officiating. Certainly you’d like to have better answers for some of these things because I think if you use the old theory that ‘if you’re watching that game and people say 99 out of 100 people in the bar say it’s a catch, then you’ve got to believe it’s a catch.’ Right now we do have some rules that don’t necessarily follow that philosophy, and there are things that I know will continue to come under scrutiny year in and year out. As a committee, I know we’ll continue to try to come up with better ways to define catch/no-catch and improve upon it. That’s the goal. We want to make the game great for our fans. We don’t want the story to be about the officiating and to be about the call or the no-call. That’s our goal as a committee. At the same time, sometimes that’s easier said than done. I know we’ll continue to work at it. We always want to work to make our game better. At the same time, understand the underlying consequences that come with that. So, we’ll continue to work at it. It’ll continue to be a point of contention until we get it exactly right.”

Bryant’s 41-yard, fourth-down catch to the Green Bay 1-yard line with less than 5 minutes remaining in the divisional playoff game in the 2014 playoffs was overturned on replay. The Cowboys never got the ball back.

Last December in his return to Lambeau, Bryant’s 28-yard catch in the second quarter was overturned.

“It’s crazy. I don’t get it,” Bryant said. “I don’t get it, but it’s all good.”

Bryant, who might not play Sunday against the Packers as he heals a hairline fracture in his right knee, joked that he will have to wait for officials to uphold his catches before he can celebrate.

“I got to keep my eyes on the official to make sure before I celebrate,” Bryant said. “I think that’s the way I’m going to go about it. If I make a catch or I think I got the ball, I’m going to look at him, ‘I’m good? I’m good?’ And then if he tells me I’m good, I’m going to celebrate.”