TitansRadio.com is reporting that the competition committee is looking at revising the rule that cost the Titans a possession inside the 10 yard line during the Texan game last season.
First, let's recap what happened, and how the rule reads now:
(Fast forward to 2:45)
I know we discussed it when it happened, but this play was officiated correctly, except that there should have been a flag thrown for fair catch interference when McCourty caught the football. Why? Because of the interpretation of the word "catch" for NCAA and NFL football.
The rule is specific about when the returners' protection ends when he gives a valid fair catch signal. If the returner gives a valid signal, he has the right to catch the football unimpeded. How long does he get to catch the ball? As long as he needs. If the ball bounces off of the returner, he can still physically catch the football until the ball hits the ground. Therefore, the burden is on the kicking team players to know not to contact the returner or the football. The result is a foul for fair catch interference, which is a 15 yard penalty from the spot of the foul.
Fast forward to the current Competition Committee meetings:
"That just didn't make sense to the committee," Competition Co-Chair Jeff Fisher said Monday in Orlando. "We're proposing that we eliminate the personal foul penalty in that situation."
Fisher said long-time director of officiating Mike Pereira has wanted to make the change for several years.
And a quote by Coach Fisher that I wholeheartedly agree with, even as an official:
"It just doesn’t look right," Fisher said after the game last September. "There is no way we can coach a player not to hit the return man or go after the ball once the ball bounces out of his hands."
I completely agree that this rule would be better if it were amended to end the protection if the returner muffed the football. It is his job to catch it, and by calling for a fair catch he should know that the kicking team would be penalized if they contact him before (or after) he catches or muffs the ball.
And Coach Fisher also points out that the catch/muff would be the only portion of the rule that was changed:
Fisher said the coverage team would still be penalized if they hit the returner as the ball arrives
I think it is only a coincidence that this occured in a Titan game and Coach Fisher is the Co-Chairman of the Competition Committee. This rule really has not made sense at all, it just never happens! That is the only time I have ever seen it at any level of football. That ball usually bounces away to where no one can catch it.
Here is the link to the story at Titansradio.com. I thought it was an interesting topic since it hit so close to home.
I am still available to answer any questions that anyone may have, and I am still looking for time to do a holding post for Pinoy Titan. But let me know if there is anything else I can answer....either post here or shoot me an email to email@example.com.