NFL exploring putting computer chips in footballs

League observers and insiders have for years been suggesting that footballs should be spiked with an electronic device that will allow officials to determine whether the plane of the goal line has been broken.  A group at Carnegie Mellon in Pittsburgh (alma mater of a certain Internet hack with whom you may be familiar) actively has been researching such a feature.

Now, Reuters reports that a German company claims it is in discussions with the NFL about developing the technology.

Yes, we are talking. There is a demand in American football,” Cairos Technologies
sales director Mario Hanus told Reuters, via SportsBusiness Daily.

The league would neither confirm nor deny the discussions.

Hanus, however, needs to learn more about American football.

“In American football you have the same situation,” Hanus said, comparing the possible use of such a device in soccer to football.  “You need to cross a
line and the ball needs to be over the line 100 percent and [the
player] are always above the ball [covering it].”

Actually, in American football only a portion — any portion — of the ball needs to break the plane of the goal line.  But we’ll give Hanus the benefit of the doubt on this one.

As long as his company figures it out before implementing the device.

75 responses to “NFL exploring putting computer chips in footballs

  1. Why not just put a camera right on the goal line? Having a stationary, elevated camera trained solely on the goal line should resolve any confusion by providing visual evidence from a perspective above the play and free from obstruction.
    Or is that so logical that it’s stupid?

  2. I am always for new technology that can help the refs get the calls right but 90% of the time we are questioning whether or not a ball crossed the line usually has to do more if the knee was down when this happened. Sure the chip will signal that the ball was crossed but that was rarely in question.
    I think its a better idea to put cameras on the goal line that can get the best view possible of the ball carrier and the goal line.

  3. this is ganna be a hard for fans to accept. eventually it will happen but their is going to be a huge hoopla over it

  4. “Or is that so logical that it’s stupid?”
    Neither. No matter what angle you focus a camera from there is the possibility it will be blocked by the ball carrier or other players. Even if you have multiple cameras from different positions the proper view could still be blocked.
    Improved technology such as a system that reads chips in the ball will eliminate any question whatsoever.

  5. That’s embarrasing if he’s actually working with the league and he doesn’t even know the rules. Yikes…

  6. Heinekenfun says:
    August 3, 2010 6:11 PM
    Why not just put a camera right on the goal line? Having a stationary, elevated camera trained solely on the goal line should resolve any confusion by providing visual evidence from a perspective above the play and free from obstruction.
    Or is that so logical that it’s stupid?
    Im pretty sure they already have that and you still need an unobstructed view of the ball way to many bodies flying around on qb sneaks and the way players tuck the ball in goal line situations.

  7. Heinekenfun:
    An overhead camera can still fail to see where the ball is. Think of a goal line pileup – there are so many bodies and so much gear covering the ball that you’d never see it from above.

  8. Heinekin ! …………Right here ya filthy wanker………..’yer football team sucks there laddie !!!

  9. i’ve always talked about that , have goal lights on top of the up rights when they get a feild goal they light up and shit like hockey, same with TD’s if it breaks the plain the lights go off (bucs cannon’s fire etc.) Hockey cant be the only sport when you score a loud ass horn blows to rub in the other teams face

  10. Great, now can you give the Ravens their win back against the Steelers two years ago? It only meant the difference in, 1). Home field in the AFCC, 2). A Super Bowl appearance, 3). A Super Bowl win, 4). ANOTHER Steeler “SB”****** that shouldn’t have counted. Of course, all three of those games were rigged, so the refs probably would have just stepped up their game if it was played in BMore (which is REALLY hard to do- I mean the game in Pittsburgh included, in the words of Boomer Esiason, “THE WORST CALL OF THE YEAR”- any guesses which team benefitted from the call?)

  11. I think you guys should put a computer chip up your asses and churn out some real, relevant news articles.

  12. To the people who want to only use cameras, remember that the players often block line of sight.
    Rather than think only of the long armed reach of a ball by a running back, consider the ball in a pile, unable to be seen, and the ref to not only know if it crossed the plane, but if it did before or after the whistle.
    win win.

  13. Dear Heineken, wow it amazes me when some one like you has an idea to smart for their own good. What a great idea……except on goal line carries when you can almost never see the ball from above…its so logical its stupid! thanks for playing, sorry we all cant be winners

  14. I hope they do something soon. Tired of games being decided by human error. What’s next, robotic-refs?

  15. Seems like you’d have to cover the skin of the ball in something that could be detected. Just an RFID or something wouldn’t cut it if the other end of the ball broke the plane. Or else model and get very precise measurements for the size of the ball, the distance of the chip from all sides of the ball, the dimensions of the field, the location of the detector…. a pretty sophisticated operation.

  16. Only morons would not accept this technology. It is very simple, the ball breaks the plane or it doesn’t. The technology to implement this has been around for years. There nothing not to like about that unless you prefer the refs staring at each other wondering what to do or are scared of technology. D’oh.
    And cameras on the goal line are not logical since they would be obstructed 99% of the time. Sensors are much more exact and fool proof.

  17. This would absolutely ruin the game.
    The human element is what makes the game so great. Taking away the element of referees making calls would leave nothing to conjecture.

  18. Call me old fashioned “Didnt think that was possible at” but this is something i feel is fine the way it is, ive seen it help and hurt my team over the years, human error is part of the game, without it refs could work from a skybox and call all the results down to the field..
    If it aint broke dont fix it… this is something that tagliabue did that kept the league great for so many years, im a Goodell hater… this guy cant leave things alone

  19. So Roger is as in bed for Europe as the Progressives like Kerry who bought a foreign boat. One would think the Commishiner would work with an American company.
    Yeah, I know: Americans are the bad guys – who made the NFL filthy rich.

  20. @BuckyBadger
    You make a good point in that it seems like whether or not the player is down is usually the bigger issue. However that call, at least for the near future, will remain with the referee.
    As for cameras on the goal line, there typically already are cameras on the goal line and they often get partially obstructed (i.e. they don’t show the ball AND the player’s knee, elbow, etc. at the same time.)
    This technology would eliminate the need for the referee to see the ball. He would only need to determine when the player was down and then check if the system detected the ball crossing the plane before that point.
    The added advantage of this is that it probably wouldn’t be too difficult to implement the technology on first downs as well.

  21. No! I love the current arrangement in which incorrect calls are made and the game is interrupted by 10 minute long challenges that were supposed to take 5 minutes.

  22. One chip on each nose of the ball, sensor thing at the goal line, and be done with it.
    maybe a light to light up like in hockey, that would be fun

  23. Its about time!! I dont know why this wasn’t developed 5 years ago. The technology has been there and if implemented correctly, can improve the game

  24. GOOD helps with ball placement also however there would need to be a chip in both ends of the ball and with all the movement of the ball after the play’s over and knee being down etc, may make it more difficult to do

  25. Such a great idea. Maybe we could also look at getting getting chips and sensors into the pads, so we know when a player is down. Maybe something in the gloves, so we will know 100% what is a catch, drop or fumble. Instead of referees, we can have robot cyborg assasains. All unfunny jokes aside, I think human error is part of the game, for better or worse.

  26. What could it hurt to try? Refs would likely welcome it. It’s a tool to use like instant replay.

  27. @GBfanForever
    Except that something like this would actually speed up instant replay since the referee would only need to make one call (when the player was down or out of bounds) instead of two calls (when the player was down or out of bounds AND where the ball was at that time).

  28. Stupid idea. Among many reasons, one is that the technology could probably be manipulated. Next thing you know, the Steelers will be scoring TDs with the ball a foot outside the plane of the goal line 🙂

  29. Maybe the ball needs to be “touched down” onto the surface of the end zone like the name suggests. Rugby? Perish the thought!

  30. Well, it’s not an awful idea, but it’s still gonna come down to the refs blowing the whistle too early or too late, given the seemingly arbitrary nature of forward progress.
    They can put the chips in and do research for a season before letting anyone know what the results are.
    The last thing we need is a buzzer announcing a false touchdown.

  31. I’ve been talking about this idea for years, and I hope they implement it asap. Allow the referees to focus on the other aspects of the game that they so often screw up and not on the position of the ball.
    For anyone who loves the so-called “human element” of the game, what is there to love? No sport was invented with the intention of the referees having an impact on the game in any way. They are there SOLELY to assure that the rules of the game are followed. These rules must be followed in order to be truly playing the sport at hand and if a human’s opinion or lack of judgment can prohibit the deserving team from winning a game or situation in which they truly did win…its just not right.
    I personally am for the idea to make every call reviewable by a paid team of officials who are off the field and can view each play from each angle at slow speeds and high-definition between each down. (with severe limits of course) Then we’d have a guaranteed, objective approach to calling a fair and unbiased game. It makes no sense to keep a ruling on the field when it is clear to anyone with a monitor that the call is 100% wrong.

  32. “Wo! Did you see that kick, Mike? Heading straight through the uprights and suddenly veered to the left, looped the loop, and eventually landed in behind the kicker bouncing back towards his how goal. I think it’s those damn hackers again.”.

  33. “Only morons would not accept this technology. It is very simple, the ball breaks the plane or it doesn’t.”
    Okay, genius. How is the knee tracked on this “very simple” technology? If you don’t know where the knee is when the ball breaks the plane, the technology is worthless.

  34. “Boy he got all of that one, looks like it will go through the end zone. He really kicking the chips out of the football today!”.

  35. Two comments on here epitome stupidity.
    @newty25 – The referees making calls do not make the game great. What the hell are you talking about? You need to seriously rethink things about your life if you the refereeing is what makes the game great.
    @Old School – You cloak of nationalism and anti-global trade stance is backwards and doesn’t even promote the ends you desire. I pity you.

  36. Hopefully it’s not the same company that makes the computerized cash registers at McDonalds. Otherwise the football will be recorded as having crossed into the no fly zone in Khabul.

  37. I would love it. With the technology that is available, even a strike zone could be computerized and there would be NO MISTAKE on a strike or a ball. Bring it!!!

  38. Wow – even if we had a dedicated camera on that Heineken dude, we wouldn’t be able to see him with so many people piling on him.
    The solution here is obvious.
    You need a chip in the ball and a chip in everyone’s knees, then a display that shows the exact time that the ball crossed the plane of the goal which can compare that to the exact time that the knee(s) touched the ground – down to the milisecond.
    Or is that so obvious that it’s stupid?

  39. Steeler fans would love this. Would finally end the oh so tiring conspiracy discussions. Of course, then we would have to hear abut how the chip was manipulated to allow Steeler scores in close situations.
    My only question is when will they put the chip in Favre’s head so he can decide when to retire and or stop throwing interceptions at key moments?

  40. The New World Order before your eyes folks! First footballs next your children! Fight the power

  41. I can only think of two sports where cameras and electronic timing from start to finish make a difference: Track and horse racing. Every other one has some degree of judgement factored in – – accurate or not.

  42. Only issue i see is the potential weight and balance offset that would have to be accounted for, if you added somthing inside the football. I think even small microchips would effect the ball in someway.

  43. Where do you put the chip on an ellipsoidal ball?
    That’s a lot of ground to cover, since any part of the ball over the line counts as a TD.
    Pretty much the entire ball would have to be a chip.

  44. I didn’t realize that a soccer ball must be all the way past the goal line to count as a goal. Of course, in practice there must be very very few instances where the ball is stopped by the keeper only partially across the goalline, but I assume it has happened on a deflection – partially in but then knocked out. Or like the World Cup goal that hit the cross bar and deflected straight down. It seems easier to just rule that any part of the ball across the goal line counts as a goal.

  45. I say they play on a glass field so we can see what’s going on from below.
    Change the cleats to moon-boots for safety and absolutely no jumping up and down.
    This will take some adjustment, but I think we would all be happier down the road.

  46. I believe to keep things simple a small patch of duct tape will do the job to keep the chip in place. Simple solution. What’s happening to this sport anyway. It’s only a game just like it was when the great ones played it without replays and the sophistication.

  47. I know this doesn’t have anything to do with the ball breaking the plane of the endzone, but you would think that in a game where instant replay is used that they’d implement standard camera angles at ALL NFL stadiums.
    You’d need 12 standard angle cameras–6 in each endzone. Two facing each other looking down the goal line. Two facing each other looking down the end line. And one looking down each sideline. With theses 12 cameras along with the regular network cameras, the field should be covered. But, the 12 cameras completely cover the endzone along with the one that sits on the cross bar of the goal post.
    I hate when they try to look down the sideline from the elevated end zone camera that’s in the middle of the endzone. It’s the wrong angle. The NFL gets caught too often with poor angle replays. Even when you see the goal line camera they use now, it’s NOT on the goal line. It’s on the 1 or 2 yard line. They make enough money to outfit each stadium with enough cameras.

  48. This is ridiculous. Why even have refs at all? We can put instruments in the pads and unis so if someone gets hits to hard a buzzer sounds. And if the ball is fumbled it can blink or glow. And we can put spikes on the sidelines so if someone really steps out, oh yeah, we’ll know for sure. And while we’re at it, lets install cameras in the helmets.
    Instant replay and shit like THIS BS are ruining American Football.

  49. NFL think it’s a bit odd that a former SS officer and long time POW would be designing and installing the computer chips, but he seems to know what he’s doing.

  50. Great…we can have TV timeouts, instant reply and now a computer verification of where in the hell the football is. Throw in another round of commercials while the zebras consult the computer chip.
    Maybe we can get a game to last 4 freakin hours.

  51. i think its a good idea. of course it wont help in every situation but if it lets you know exactly when the ball crosses you can see if the knee has touched yet (if visable). And i don’t think it would have a siren like hockey, but maybe a light in the background, like basketball shot clocks have in the backboard. if it helps solve one call, say in the playoffs or even the superbowl then everyone will praise the new chip. and honestly, how much can it cost? the nfl has tons of cash to blow.

  52. If you do this; The ball should light up if it crosses the plane. Give us some type of visual.
    One chip at each end of the ball, and one chip implanted on each of the four panels that protrudes the furthest on the belly of the ball.
    Done! Now, no more whining!

  53. If you do this; The ball should light up if it crosses the plane. Give us some type of visual.
    One chip at each end of the ball, and one chip implanted on each of the four panels that protrudes the furthest on the belly of the ball.
    Done! Now, no more whining!

  54. The company has been testing it in soccer for 2 years but nobody has scored a goal yet so they don’t know if it works.

  55. They tried something like this with the NHL. Remember the FoxTrax hockey puck?
    Terrible idea.

  56. Someone earlier said that most of the problem is knowing if the player was down or not before crossing the goal line and he is right.
    Someone else pointed out that there could be chips in the players knees. That is a horrible idea. Players get scalped enough. I highly doubt that they would want to get scalped to place a computer chip in their body. The other thing is that players don’t always land on their knees when being tackled. They can land on their side on fall backwards on their butt where their knee would not make contact with the ground. So that means they would need some kind of sensor from the waist to just below their knee. That would be costly.
    It is best that the game just stays the way it is so that fans have a excuse to why their teams lost just like that steelers fan. I think every fan could think of a game where their team got robbed by a bad call. Its over, stop being a baby and get over it!

  57. Any way to get the call right should be applied…PERIOD
    This idea of not getting the call right = The way it has always been done thus should be continued… absolutely idiotic in every way
    No, just because it was wrong in the past doesn’t mean it should continue being wrong

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