COMPETITION COMMITTEE PRESS CONFERENCE
RICH MCKAY, JEFF FISHER & DEAN BLANDINO
McKay: Okay, good afternoon. I think I will go first and then I will turn it over to Jeff and to Dean. Usually we go through all the proposals; I’m not sure we need to do that at this time – there were a lot of them. Jeff knows them by heart so he can go through them, but I don’t think we’ll start on that. I think what I’d like to start with today is there is a proposal we didn’t cover on the call the other day and that is Resolution G-2 which was given to the clubs today and that resolution deals with a medical stoppage by the ATC spotter – that’s the spotter that’s upstairs in the press box that will, if passed, will then have the authority to stop the game if they see a player that displays obvious signs of disorientation or is clearly unstable. So in other words, Dean instructs all the officials on the field to make sure we look for players that might be in distress and have them leave the game. But in case we miss a player, this ATC spotter will have the ability to stop the game, to radio to the side judge, I think it is, and have the side judge stop the game, have the player removed for a play, so the player will be looked at. So that is a resolution that we hadn’t covered with any of you last week just because we were still developing it as a committee and it was given to the clubs this morning.
I’ll have Dean cover with you ‘catch/no-catch’ because I know there is interest in that and he’s got video to show you. And I thought I’d have Jeff talk a little bit about – I know we gave you our position on instant replay – the reason we gave it to you in writing is because it was longer than we typically take a position on and there are a lot of different points to it so we just wanted to cover it in writing. So, if you want, I’ll let Jeff talk to you a little bit about replay and all the replay proposals and what we put in writing for you.
Fisher: As we talked during the week we have 13 of the 18 proposals presented by the clubs deal with instant replay in one shape or another. Whether it’s ‘review everything,’ whether it’s to be able to review fouls on defenseless players, whether it’s increase the number of challenges involving the game clock, the play clock, those kinds of things. There is one proposal that the committee favors and that’s the one with respect to the timing on the game clock, not the play clock, but the game clock at the end of the half or the end of the game. And it needs to be more than one second at issue. And so we’re going to obviously see how that goes with the vote.
The committee’s position for years has been to oppose involving fouls in replay for a lot of different reasons – for two different standards that we’ve talked about. We’ve looked at a lot of tape this offseason, we looked at the fouls particularly relating to hits on defenseless players. We had 27 of them this year, we looked at them as a group. We could not agree on a number of them, that’s just the nature of the standard in replay. A number of these fouls will go, on Monday morning, at the league office from the officiating department to player discipline and oftentimes that process will take 20-30 minutes, maybe an hour, to determine whether it was in fact a foul. So you can see the issues that we’re going to have if we involve those things in replay.
The Canadian Football League experimented – a one-year experiment last year – with adding to replay defensive pass interference, where the coach could actually generate the foul. They had 55 instances during the season. Forty-nine of those were initiated by the coach, so the coach basically in essence became an official in those instances and only six were overturned. There are a lot of things at stake and the big thing is the standard. The standard is very, very difficult. The on-the-field, full-speed standard versus the frame-by-frame review and basically what you’re doing is adding another element of subjectivity. So those are the basic reason for the committee being opposed to adding fouls to replay.
Blandino: I’ll take you through the ‘catch/no-catch’. A lot of discussion about the process of the catch. What is and what isn’t possession? This was generated, obviously, with the play from the Divisional Playoff game with Dallas and Green Bay. The committee doesn’t recommend a change to the rule, but looked at the language and tweaked the language in an attempt to make it clearer and easier to understand. For years the requirements for a catch – the way it was communicated in the rule book is control, both feet and then after that the receiver had to have the ball long enough to perform an act common to the game – and that was defined as being able to pitch it, pass it, clearly advance the ball as a runner. I think as part of this discussion around this play it was that ‘act common to the game,’ football move, whatever you want to call it, that I think created some confusion. And so in an effort to clear that up the committee looked at the language and made several changes. So in order to complete a catch, the receiver has to have control, both feet on the ground and he has to have it after that long enough to clearly establish himself as a runner. And this would fall directly in line with our defenseless player rule where we say a receiver is protected until he can clearly establish himself as a runner. What does that mean? That means he has the ability to ward off, avoid, protect himself from the impending contact. And then we get into is the player going to the ground or falling to the ground to make the catch or is he completing the catch while upright? Well, if he can clearly establish himself as a runner, then he’s not going to the ground to make the catch. If he hasn’t clearly established himself as a runner prior to going to the ground, then he has to hold on to the ball until after his initial contact with the ground. And that’s the rule that applied here. When you watch the play, Bryant is going to the ground. He is falling to the ground to make the catch, he has not clearly established himself as a runner prior to going to the ground, so he has to hold on to the ball until after that initial contact with the ground. He’s basically got to hold on to it throughout this action. If the ball touches the ground and comes loose, it’s an incomplete pass. And you’ll see the ball hit the ground and then it pops loose. That’s all part of the catch process and so the committee looked at the language and feels ‘clearly establishing himself as a runner’ makes the rule a little bit easier to understand. And when we talk about ‘clearly establishing himself as a runner,’ just a couple of examples. Where here, the receiver has control, both feet and he clearly becomes a runner and then extends the football out for the goal line. The difference between this play and the Bryant play is that here the receiver has possession, he’s become a runner and then he extends the ball for the goal line. If the ball breaks the plane in possession of a runner, it’s a touchdown at that point. Another example here where the receiver, he’s not going to the ground to make the catch. He has control, both feet down, he has the ability to ward off, protect himself from contact, so he doesn’t have to protect himself when he lands. Just one more example when we talk about holding the ball until after the initial contact you’ll see here Nelson goes to the ground, he lands on the ground and then the defender knocks it loose. That’s a catch because he has completed the requirements, held the ball until after his initial contact. His initial contact is there, then the defender knocks it loose. So the committee looked at a lot of tape, didn’t recommend a change to the rule but wanted to clean up some of the language, put it more in line with the defenseless player rule and the receiver who can clearly establish himself as a runner does not have to hold on to the football if he subsequently goes to the ground to be a catch.
Dean, in the change of that wording on the Calvin Johnson rule, the difference between time to make a football act and establishing yourself as a runner, do you feel there’s any difference in those two? Are there any plans where the ruling changes from one thing to another based on that difference in wording?