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Sportress of Blogitude

NFL senior V.P. of officiating explains controversial Jesse James ruling

NFL senior V.P. of officiating Al Riveron attempted to clarify the controversial ruling that reversed Jesse James’ touchdown last Sunday.

The play in question occurred late in the 4th quarter of the Pittsburgh Steelers’ disheartening 27-24 loss to the New England Patriots. James appeared to score a touchdown that would have given the Steelers the lead with 28 seconds remaining.

Officials ruled, however, that the Steelers tight end lost control of the football, thus making it an incomplete pass.

Here’s how Riverion explained the situation and the controversial ruling when made available Thursday during the NFL’s media briefing.

“In this situation, it was not necessarily a football move,” Riveron said, according to a transcript provided by the league, per Pro Football Talk. “It was going to the ground. Any time you’re going to the ground, whether it’s on your own, whether you’re contacted by an opponent, or whether you’re contacted by a teammate, you must survive the ground. What does that mean? That means once you make initial contact with the ground, you must have control of the football before it touched the ground.

“In this situation, yes, his knee goes down. But we know Sunday football, the knee going down, you are still live and can do whatever you want with the football as opposed to college football. So, yes, the knee was down, he does make another move where he’s reaching for pay dirt. Once he reaches for pay dirt, he loses control of the football. Before he regains control of the football, it touches the ground. Therefore, it was an incomplete pass. This is not so much about a football move, it’s about going to the ground. In the process of going to the ground, you must survive the ground via having control of the football upon the initial contact with the ground.”

It’s an expansive explanation, obviously. That’s of course the major problem with the NFL’s much-maligned catch rule. If the senior V.P. of officiating requires such a wordy and meandering monologue, the case can be made some simplification and clarity to the rule in question is needed.