The NFL rule book was once pretty simple. There was not much a player had to do to catch a football. A player's entire body was fair game when being tackled. There was no five yard bump rule and pass defenders could make contact with receivers until the ball was thrown. A ball carrier was not down until he touched.

Now, the NFL rulebook is full of gray areas. What is a catch? Where can a defensive player strike when tackling  an opponent? When does the contact begin and end in the five yard bump zone? When does a ball carrier give themselves up and not need touching  to be ruled down?

Because of these gray areas it seems as though every five minutes the referee is going to the replay booth to review something. This slows down the game and cuts into its tempo.  

Maybe if certain rules were simplified the game would be better off. The referee wouldn't have to go to replay so often and there would be less controversy over calls.

For example what constitutes a catch?

For years, a legal catch was simply the receiver gaining possession of the ball with both feet touching in bounds. There was no such thing as having to make a football move or completing the catch when falling to the ground. Maybe the league should go back to this. Too many catches have been ruled incomplete, because receivers have possessed the ball with both feet in bounds only to lose it when hitting the ground in bounds or out of bounds. Detroit Lion wide receiver Calvin Johnson lost what would have been a game winning touchdown against the bears in 2010, because he lost a ball he clearly had possession of when his hand hit the ground.

Another reason this rule does not seem to make sense is that in the field of play the ground can not cause a fumble, but out of bounds it can cause a dropped pass.

Pass interference has always been a controversial rule. In high school and college the penalty for defensive pass interference is 15 yards from the previous spot. The NFL makes it a spot foul. If the NFL adopted the high school and college rule I think that people would be more tolerant of pass interference calls.

For safety's sake tackling was narrowed down to the torso for quarterbacks in the pocket. The head is off-limits for everyone. Where the gray area comes in is when can you hit a quarterback? For the most part, if he has gotten rid of the ball you can't. But it's hard to slow down 300 pounds when it is at top speed.

The tuck rule states if a quarterback is in the act of throwing, gets hit and loses the ball whether he has two hands on it or not it is an incomplete pass. This should be simplified by just saying if the quarterback has both hands on the ball when hit it is a fumble. If it is only one hand at the end of the throwing motion then it is an incomplete pass.

These are just a few of the obvious rules that could be changed to clean up gray areas in the rule book. To cover them all one would have to write a book.

The NFL usually gets it right when tweaking the rules.

They just over think them sometimes.

NFL officials deal with rule book gray areas
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