New year, new rules: Rule No. 13

Updated: December 15, 2010, 1:49 PM ET
ESPN The Magazine

Rule No. 13: Decide once and for all, what a catch is

Stupidest. Rule. Ever. NFL Week 1 in Chicago, Lions wideout Calvin Johnson hauls in an apparent game-winning TD pass, falls to the ground, starts to get up and lets go of the ball. The refs rule it incomplete, saying Johnson failed to maintain possession through the entire process of the catch.

Entire process? As soon as a ballcarrier breaks the plane of the goal line by even one zeptometer (that's one-trillionth of a nanometer, if you're scoring at home), it matters not at all if he coughs up the pigskin the very next yoctosecond (one-thousandth of a zeptosecond, but you knew that). His team gets six.

Tom Cruze/Chicago Sun-Times/AP ImagesWe still don't know how this wasn't a catch.

Can you say double standard? We will. In fact, we'll shout it from the bleachers. But we're also part of the solution, so here's our single standard: Meet in the middle.

For the guy who breaks the plane by a hair, normal ball-control etiquette will apply. Spill the rock before hitting the ground, and it's a fumble, not a touchdown. And that guy who catches the ball in the end zoneif he gets two hoofs (or his head, shoulders, knees or 'bows) on the ground, and still has possession when he does, then it's a touchdown, not an incompletion.

Party on, Megatron. Detroit is 1-0.

NEXT: Redefine offsides