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Here we go again. Stop me if you've heard this before: What's a catch?

How can such a simple question lead to such a complicated answer?

I always thought a catch in the NFL meant the player had clear possession of the ball when they crossed the goal line or were tackled, with two feet clearly in bounds.

Why is it for decades it was easy to know what was a catch and what wasn't? Easy, because like everything else involving the NFL today, it's become complicated. The league overthought what a catch is. Now we hear things like, is the ball moving? Did the player "survive the ground?"


I'm a proponent of replay because I've always believed you should exhaust every avenue to get the call right. But after what happened in Sunday's Buffalo-New England game in which the Bills' Kelvin Benjamin's touchdown catch was overturned on review, it's obvious that replay can get the call wrong.

Why are NFL officials in New York having final say on what the call is? Why do we have refs at the game then? Refs used to look at the replay in a booth to make the call. Now they look at small tablets (why tablets, you ask? Because Microsoft is paying the NFL and the NFL never turns down free money).

Have the ref at the game go into a booth with a 50-inch flat screen, like the ones we watch the game at home, and then make the call. The onfield ref should have final say on every single replay review, not the pooh-bahs in the league office.

Look, if the NFL wants to officiate games remotely, then just get rid of all the onfield officials and use those spider cams to catch and call penalties. That's what it seems like the NFL eventually would like to do.

All of this inconsistency is hurting the game. You can debate why NFL TV ratings are down, there are many reasons I won't get into here, but when fans have to sit through lengthy video reviews and obvious calls are reversed, I can understand why fans are tuning out.

I will say this, NFL officiating may be incompetent but it's not biased or fixed. I am so tired of hearing fans complain that the Patriots get all the calls or "fill in the name of the team your team is playing" is favored by the refs.

Do officials miss calls? Yes.

Do officials make the wrong call? Yes.

Do officials hate your team and want them to lose? Yes, err, I mean no, no, of course not.

Seriously, why don't other pro leagues have these blatant officiating problems?

Because the NFL complicates everything because it cares more about making as much money as possible instead of about the quality of the game.

Example, why did the NFL move a bunch of game times Sunday, including Bills-Dolphins, from 1 p.m. to 4:30? C'mon, you know the answer, m-o-n-e-y.

Just think if you were a fan who was going to one of those games and you had plans for New Year's Eve for about 8 p.m. If you still want to see the game, your plans just changed. Bunching together all the games with playoff implications at 4:30 and not 1 p.m. means higher TV ratings in the late afternoon-early prime time spot. So who cares about the paying customers who may not be able to attend the game at 4:30?

And why did the NFL decide NOT to have a game on Sunday night? In the past, the NFL picked one game for the prime time spot in which a playoff berth was on the line.

Why not this year? Because the NFL knows you won't be watching on New Year's Eve and the NFL doesn't like poor TV ratings.

And it's a joke that the NFL just doesn't admit why they're doing this.

The league that can't figure out what a catch is also can't be honest with its fans.

It's so simple but the NFL can't help but complicate it.

Sciria, The Citizen's assistant news editor, can be reached at or on Twitter @csciria