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NFL owners predict approval of new catch rule proposal

ORLANDO, Fla. — Several NFL owners said Sunday they expect few problems in the ratification process of the catch rule proposal put forth by the sport’s competition committee.

“I think it’ll go well,” said Stephen Jones, an executive vice president and chief operating officer of the Dallas Cowboys. “It’s got unanimous support at the competition committee level. Of course, we’ve done a lot of work with our coaching committee and general managers committee, so they’re aware of it. I’d be surprised if we don’t have success with the passing.”

New York Giants co-owner John Mara expressed a similar view.

“I think we’re in pretty good shape on that,” Mara said. “I think we’ll come out with something that it’s not going to solve every single situation that you see. But I think it solves the bigger issues - the Dez Bryant play, the Calvin Johnson play, the Jesse James play - I think those will all be ruled, or should be ruled, caches in the future. Is it going to get every one? No. But I think it puts us in a much better position than we’re in right now. And so do most of the officials who we’ve spoken to about it, and the coaches as well.”

Asked whether he believes the catch rule proposal will get the 24 votes among the 32 NFL owners necessary for approval, Mara said: “I think so.”

Jones, a son of Cowboys primary owner Jerry Jones, and Mara are members of the competition committee, which rewrote the catch rule at the behest of NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell. The committee is to present its proposal to the owners at the annual league meeting that began Sunday at an Orlando resort.

The proposal says that to be awarded a legal catch, a receiver must have possession of the football with two feet or another body part on the ground in bounds. The receiver then must make a football move, such as taking another step or extending the football toward the goal line or first-down marker, or must be deemed to have had time to have done so.

The new rule eliminates the requirement that a receiver who makes a catch while going to the ground must maintain possession of the football while on the turf to be awarded a catch. It says that slight movement of the football in the receiver’s hands detected on an instant replay review does not result in an incompletion as long as the receiver maintains control.

Jones said he does not expect a proposal by the New York Jets to limit defensive pass interference penalties to, at most, 15 yards to be ratified by the owners. The proposal comes without the backing of the competition committee, which rejected it by a 6-2 vote.

“Obviously the competition committee was against it. . . . In my mind, I think it’ll struggle,” Jones said. “There’s reasons for it. I certainly understand it. It’s certainly a big penalty. But at the same time, what we don’t want to see is more and more intentional pass interferences where players are tackling guys and things of that nature to keep them from scoring.