With the NFL changes to the catch rule on the fly, New England
had to suffer the consequences to lose the top championship. Eagles
players made some controversial moves on their way to take the top title. These moves were eagerly reviewed with touchdowns being awarded at the end. There were no in-completion rulings and this meant that Philadelphia
effectively silenced the Patriots
to lift the top trophy. All this amid cheering fans who would have been heartbroken, if the catches ruling would have curtailed the Eagles' win.
The Officiating Vice President in the NFL, Al Riveron stated that the catches at the regular season were treated differently from the catches at the Super Bowl. Tim Hasselbeck on ESPN's NFL Live reported this about the sentiments of the NFL official. Of course, if the catches would have been nullified, the implications on both fan bases would have been rather unpleasant. New England can have a solid point of argument stating that the law was not applied equally, which may have cost them the Lombardi trophy. The reality of this matter would no doubt open a Pandora's box. Even now, many Patriots fans are still coming to terms with the humiliating loss to the Eagles in early 2018.
Could a strict adherence to the catch rule have changes things for the Patriots? Whatever the case, New England odds for next season could even be higher than expected. However, the catch rule could have even bigger implications as well. For example, the Pittsburgh Steelers
would be equally upset. This is because the rule was not in place when they needed to beat the Patriots in the regular season. If the rule was that broken, the league should have made prior ruling and voted accordingly, before James attempted to catch a winning touchdown against the Patriots.
You will remember that it all started in Dallas with the Cowboys. In the 2014 divisional playoffs, Bryant caught an all important touchdown against the Packers. With the selective enforcement of the catch rule, the Cowboys had to contend with the results. Their rivals were handed the win which cost them a championship. This treatment cannot be termed as fair. Therefore, fans in Buffalo, Dallas, Detroit and Pittsburgh could have a good reason to complain about the selective approach and enforcement. The past being over and done with, nothing much can be done about what transpired.
However, the league has a huge role to play to avoid such problems. This learning lesson will help avert other cases that might light a fire in the NFL. A fire of this nature would be hard to put out. Fair treatment and strict observance of the laid out rules is what fans are concerned about. Above all, the NFL has to be proactive in fixing and mending any lose ends. Not addressing the pressing issues will only make the controversies worse. On the ground, fan bases can be affected for a very long time while losing faith in the league. This is not a nice place for the league to go.