There Will Be No ‘Calvin Johnson Rule’, Call to Remain the Same
When Calvin Johnson caught a game-winning touchdown against the Bears in Week 1 this past season, it looked as though the Lions were going to accomplish something extremely rare by Detroit standards: starting off a season on a high note. Then the score was taken away, sending Lions fans into an uproar and filling the football world with talk of a “Calvin Johnson Rule.”
According to Newsday, via Pro Football Talk, there will be no such rule in 2011. NFL competition committee member John Mara said that after examining the play it was determined that any change to the rule would be too tough to officiate. He explained that having to maintain control of the ball all the way to the ground makes the rule “easier to officiate.”
While Mara’s reasoning may be sound, the decision is wrong. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: there’s a reason we have human beings officiating games and not robots. Referees need to make judgments in order to throw flags for penalties like pass interference and holding, so why can’t we extend that same responsibility to them for catches like the one Johnson made? When it’s that obvious that he was flipping the ball up in the air after completely controlling it, why can’t the league allow officials to use discretion?
Johnson made a tremendous catch that may have even impressed Al Davis. When everyone can blatantly see that a player made a catch and a technicality in the way the rules are written prevents a team from winning a game, you have a problem. One came to light early last season when the Lions were screwed, and the NFL should have made a rule adjustment.