President Trump has nominated Brett Kavanaugh, a federal appellate court judge, to take over the Supreme Court seat of retiring justice Anthony Kennedy. And regardless of Kavanaugh’s judicial stances on, say, voting rights or abortion, there’s one opinion of his that ought to get NFL fans talking: Kavanaugh thinks Dez didn’t catch it.
(Yes, this is more politics in sports. If you’re just interested in pure football content, check out today’s preview of the San Francisco 49ers. No hard feelings if you tap out now; no complaining about not sticking to sports if you don’t.)
Did Dez catch it?
Let’s briefly set the stage here. As you surely remember, late in a 2014-season divisional playoff game against the Green Bay Packers, the Dallas Cowboys’ Dez Bryant appeared to catch a Tony Romo pass that would have put him either in the end zone or at the one-yard line. But after an official review, the pass was ruled incomplete. Referee Gene Steratore’s explanation was worthy of a Supreme Court justice itself:
“Although the receiver is possessing the football, he must maintain possession of that football throughout the entire process of the catch. In our judgement, he maintained possession, but continued to fall and never had another act common to the game. We deemed that by our judgement to be the full process of the catch, and at the time he lands and the ball hits the ground, it comes loose as it hits the ground, which would make that incomplete; although he repossesses it, it does contact the ground when he reaches, so the repossession is irrelevant because it was ruled an incomplete pass when we had the ball hit the ground.”
Makes perfect sense, right? Not to most of America then, and not to Dallas even now.
Kavanaugh’s Dez opinion
Here’s where Kavanaugh comes in. Speaking to a class at Marquette Law School in 2015 — which is in Packers territory, though you can decide for yourself if that affected Kavanaugh’s opinion — he used the Dez example as a way of demonstrating how separation of powers works best when the rules in play are well-known beforehand. (Link via ProFootballTalk.)
“It’s better when the rules governing a catch are set forth before Dez Bryant falls to the ground,” Kavanaugh said. “Because the rule said, that was it. If we can do it in the NFL, we can do it here as well.”
In other words, in Kavanaugh’s eyes, the rules are the rules, even if they don’t necessarily make sense on the surface. Of course, it’s worth noting that the NFL has since changed the rule to a more common-sense version; i.e., if it looks like a catch, walks like a catch, talks like a catch, it’s a freakin’ catch.
We’ll leave the legal implications of Kavanaugh’s stance to the experts, which almost surely does not include you, me, or the commenters below this article.
NFL owner endorses Kavanaugh
It’s early yet, but several prominent sports figures in front offices have already endorsed Kavanaugh, including Arizona Cardinals owner Michael Bidwill and Yankees general manager Brian Cashman. Which is fine, of course, if you’re OK with politics in your sports. If you’re not, well, we assume you’re every bit as angry with their endorsement of President Trump’s pick as you are with players kneeling.
Should Judge Kavanaugh reach the Supreme Court, we look forward to his rulings on key decisions like NFL v. Brady’s Deflated Balls, Rodgers v. Favre, and Newton v. Haters.
More from Yahoo Sports:
• LiAngelo Ball will play in his dad’s league after all
• Why isn’t the U.S. better at soccer? It’s all about $$$
• Massive bee invasion delays Texas minor league game
• Kawhi Leonard and the Spurs have the entire NBA waiting