If you have noticed over your many years of consuming sports media, sports writers and broadcasters are obsessed with being the first to challenge conventional wisdom in the interest of trying to be elite, or above the common folk. There are many examples, and the internet is buzzing right now following the Megatron Scandal. Enter ESPN’s NFC North blogger, Kevin Seifert:
(NFL RULE) If a player goes to the ground in the act of catching a pass (with or without contact by an opponent), he must maintain control of the ball after he touches the ground, whether in the field of play or the end zone. If he loses control of the ball, and the ball touches the ground before he regains control, the pass is incomplete. If he regains control prior to the ball touching the ground, the pass is complete.
I know it doesn’t make intuitive sense. I know Johnson made a leaping catch of a 25-yard pass from Shaun Hill. There is no doubt he had two feet in bounds while maintaining possession. But Johnson dropped the ball after he landed on the ground and didn’t regain possession.
Wrong. Read the rule. There is zero qualifying indication of what “control of the ball after he touches the ground” means. Calvin Johnson fell to the ground, touching his knee, and hand, all while maintaining control of the football. To that point during the reception, there is no argument. What is perfectly consistent with the rule is that once his knee hit, that constitutes the ground in ALL other aspects of football. The play was over, he had maintained “control of the ball after he touche(d) the ground.” There is no “second act” like mentioned on the broadcast. It’s the end zone, what “second act” could there be? The play was over. Feet, knee, hand. Over. Is he supposed to take the ball to the bus with him?
That play was consistent with what the NFL calls a “reception.” That was criminal. Galarraga is still perfect, and the Lions are 1-0.
Be prepared to hear all the “experts” jump on the “blame the rule, not the referee” bandwagon.