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Rich McKay acknowledges limitations of replay

Green Bay Packers v Detroit Lions

DETROIT , MI - NOVEMBER 26: Calvin Johnson #81 of the Detroit Lions looks on during the game against the Green Bay Packers on November 26, 2009 at Ford Field in Detroit, Michigan. Green Bay won the game 34-12. (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)

Gregory Shamus

Questions about what constitutes a catch were a hot topic in the NFL all season, from the Calvin Johnson non-touchdown in Week One through two questionable replay reviews in the two conference championship games. Falcons president Rich McKay, the co-chair of the league’s Competition Committee, says that’s also a hot topic during the committee’s meetings in Indianapolis.

But McKay cautions that there will always be problems with using slow-motion replay to review an official’s split-second judgment on the field of whether a player possessed a ball.

“Quite frankly, it’s something we’ve talked about the last couple of years and there’s an inherent conflict between slow motion replay, super slow motion replay and what we ask our officials to do on the field,” McKay said. “So we need to write the rule in a way as to not put our officials in a bad position.”

McKay is right: With a question like whether a player had control of a ball, watching a slow-motion replay sometimes distorts what actually happened. Slow a replay down enough, and a pass that was dropped can start to look like a pass that was caught.

But it’s incumbent on the Competition Committee to come up with a definition of the word “catch” that all the officials can understand, and that won’t be interpreted differently on replay by different referees. In the 2010 season, it was clear that the NFL had failed to do that.