There already has been a lot of talk, officially, on the subject. There continues to be disagreement. But NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell wants America to know what is — and what is not — a catch.
Goodell did his annual pre-Super Bowl news conference Wednesday. He touched on a number of issues and subjects, including a shout-out to Star Tribune columnist Sid Hartman.
Then he got down to business.
And defining what a catch is appears to be atop the list, given the controversy the subject spawned over the course of this season.
“On the catch/no catch rule, we need to find a rule we think will address that,’’ Goodell said.
To that end, two weeks ago, the NFL brought in officials, coaches and members of the Pro Football Hall of Fame to review 150 such plays, with the idea of coming up with some suggestions for the league’s competition committee.
But it won’t be easy. Even all those bright people with all that experience disagreed, Goodell said.
Thus the challenge to get it right. Goodell said the answer might be not adding to the existing rule, but stripping it all down and starting over. “Look at the rule fundamentally,’’ he said. “From the start. Because when you add or subtract things, you can still lead to confusion.’’
To be clear, Goodell said he felt officials called the play correctly, according to current rules. But it appears what defines a catch could change.
“I think we can clarify this rule,’’ Goodell said. “With a lot of hard work, focus, get to a place where — I’m not going to say there won’t be controversy — but we can get to a better place. We have a great opportunity to get this thing right.’’
That was one of many issues Goodell addressed Wednesday, including:
• Working to streamline the review process so the pace of the game is not affected. “That’s one thing we’ll focus on,’’ Goodell said. “How do we do the replay, insure it will correct an obvious mistake, but not disrupt the flow of the game?’’
• Goodell disputed the idea that Thursday night games make players more prone to injury. Wednesday morning the league announced a deal with Fox to carry Thursday night games going forward. “We’ll always look to see, are there things we can improve not make not only Thursday night games, but all games, safer,’’ he said.
• Goodell said it was not up to the league whether quarterback Colin Kaepernick gets another chance in the NFL. Kaepernick, who gained notice for his decision to kneel during the national anthem, has filed a grievance against the NFL that alleges collusion. “All the clubs have to make their own decision on who is or is not on the roster,’’ Goodell said. “We, as a league, do not get involved in that in any way.’’
• As for the issue of how to address the issue of the national anthem, Goodell talked about the newly formed owners/players committee on social justice, saying he thought the league and players are on the right path.
• Goodell announced that the Los Angeles Rams would play a home game against Kansas City in Mexico City. “We believe that game has many more years ahead of it,’’ he said.’’ The date of that game has not been determined.
• He said he hadn’t looked very closely into Vince McMahon’s recent announcement to bring back the XFL, other than to say the NFL regularly looks at spring football options as a potential path for some players to eventually reach the NFL.
• Goodell said former U.S. attorney Mary Jo White will lead the investigation into Carolina Panthers owner Jerry Richardson, who has been accused of sexual and racial misconduct in the workplace. Richardson has announced his intention to sell the franchise. Goodell said he hoped the team remained in Carolina and said he believed most of the other league owners did, too. “I am sure that is a question many of our owners will ask,’’ he said.