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James: 'It is going to bother me forever'

The NFL decision makers will meet in Orlando, Florida beginning on Monday at the NFL Owners Meetings, and everyone will be paying attention to potential changes in what has become the league's hot button topic this year – the catch/no catch rule.

Among those watching closely will be Jesse James, who is hoping the NFL Competition Committee and the owners bring some clarity to what defines a catch.

The Competition Committee has proposed what they believe the language should be for what constitutes a catch, and the proposal will be up for a vote during the meetings. The language reads: control of the ball; getting two feet down or another body part; performing a football move such as a third step, extending for the line-to-gain, or the ability to perform such an act.  

According to Al Riveron, Senior Vice President of Officiating, under the new guidelines James' catch against the New England Patriots in Week 15 that was ruled no catch by Riveron, would now be a catch and would have been a touchdown.

The play happened in the fourth quarter, with the Steelers down 27-24, and just 34 seconds on the clock. Ben Roethlisberger connected with James for a 10-yard touchdown, with James going to the ground as he extended for the end zone. The play was ruled a touchdown on the field, but after a long delay with the replay officials looking at it, the call was overturned and ruled incomplete. Two plays later Roethlisberger was intercepted in the end zone, and the Steelers lost.

While time has gone by, the pain attached to the play continues to bug James.

"It is going to bother me forever," said James. "It's just one of those plays, defining moments in a career and season for sure. It put a loss on our stat sheet. That one hurt. Especially the way they officiate these things. It's like the officials are tossing a coin and see what it is they like and then they call it. You see the play, it was talked about every week because of how controversial it was. It seemed like every week since then there was a catch that had been ruled similarly. Similar catch, not the same results.

"I don't think they know yet what is correct. I am hoping they will re-evaluate that and bring more clarity to it."

While that one play will be a haunting memory from the 2017 season, there were a lot of good memories for James, who had his best season with 43 receptions for 372 yards with three touchdowns. His best performance came against the Baltimore Ravens in Week 14 when he had 10 receptions for 97 yards.

And in his typical, quiet, humble way, he didn't pat himself on the back for anything he did, but rather put it all on the team. 

"We had guys making plays from everywhere," said James. "We have grown as a team. Everyone got better from the beginning of the season. We saw improvements every week, different guys making plays. You never knew who was going to have a big game in our offense because so many guys are capable. "We were a resilient group. We started off slow, finished off the regular season strong. There were a lot of positives to take out of it, but if you don't accomplish your ultimate goal then it's tough to look back at it."

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