League continues to resist in-stadium first-down laser


The NFL desperately wants to enhance the in-stadium experience.  But the NFL continues to resist an innovation that would make watching the game in person a lot more like watching it at home.

For years, the technology has existed to implement a laser system that would make the line to gain visible to everyone in the stadium — including the players, the coaches, and the officials.

Now, with more and more fans choosing to watch on TV, this system helps duplicate the technology that is available during the broadcast of every game.

“We have not been convinced that it would work for us, but we are open to further discussion after the season,” NFL spokesman Greg Aiello told the Associated Press.

The laser is embedded in the orange sticks separated by 10 yards, and the company that makes the device has received financial backing from legendary kicker and broadcaster Pat Summerall.

39 responses to “League continues to resist in-stadium first-down laser

  1. It’s a moot point anyway. The “game of inches” and the measurement dog and pony show is a myth. It is a myth because the chain that everybody stares at when placed next to the ball is based on a WAG after a typical first down. They never mark where the ball is initially so the measurement is for show rather than accuracy.

  2. As a guy that has attended well over 100 NFL games in person, I’d like to see this tried out in a few preseason games. It would be perhaps the only way they’d ever get me to a preseason game in person. We’ve given our preseason tickets to the local Boy Scout troop for decades.

  3. This sounds like a bad idea. Projecting a first down line onto the field fundamentally changes the game of football. As it stands now, heady players are rewarded for being aware of the sticks and knowing which yardline will net them a first down. How many times have you seen Aaron Rodgers slide immediately after gaining enough yardage for a first? That is part of why he is so good; he’s heady. With a laser yellow line on the field, all of a sudden having that awareness is no longer a valuable attribute.

  4. Would be a great addition. It would also help with bringing more people “into” the action. Ever had somebody who is new to football and having trouble following the game? Just point and tell them the ball has to get past that line. Instantly anybody can follow what’s going on.

  5. The only thing that is annoying at games is the idiotic drunks. I took my son to a colts game, and while nothing is better than an actual stadium experience, explaining to my 7 year old that the guy screaming profanities and making fun of the other team is just a drunk idiot. Then we are watching a sports program, and he asks why a guy got stabbed after a football game, “he was probably drunk like the guy at the colts game daddy.” Yeah, great perception the NFL in game experience has become, where I am not even comfortable taking my kids to a game. To think a little yellow laser is going to make the game better, how about not making a “family” atmosphere like an open bar for the respectable fan? Yes, I have been intoxicated at a game before, but never have acted like a complete moron, and yelled obscenities out loud. To think, this little yellow laser could make it that much better!! Good luck!!!

  6. This will eventually happen if the technology is strong enough. The league has to continue to push the in game experience envelope.

    You would have to question if it gives a competitive edge to the offense to strive even harder for the line to gain if they see it in its bright shining glory in front of them. How many times have you seen a player come up a yard short while watching on tv and just wondered why they didn’t reach for the yellow line.

  7. “We have not been convinced that it would work for us, but we are open to further discussion after the season,” NFL spokesman Greg Aiello

    Just try it……C’mon MAN!

  8. Rewarding players for awareness of the sticks is a good point, gee I guess the only solution is for fans to rent the optional $20 special viewing goggles so they can see the laser line and other neat features that the goggles reveal. Or if they want to save money they can pay $100 for a lifetime of free uses at each game they come to. What a sweet deal that would be, it’s practically giving them away at that price!

  9. If you need a laser to tell you what the markers on the sideline and the immediate signal from a referee tell you on every play, you are watching the game with a telescope from your apartment building’s fire escape.

  10. Why would you not want that!? That would solve so many problems and it would make the rule to review every touchdown irrelevant. If the question were they crossed the goal line, but still its something that is completely necessary and if anything test it in the pro bowl for just one game to see How it goes

  11. I’m kind of old-school when it comes to sports, so I’m not sure I dig this idea. Maybe the NFL should work on making the stadium experience more affordable and fan friendly instead of adding more glitz.

  12. Under today’s rules and standards…..

    Jerry Rice would have been cut in training camp.
    Jim Brown would lead the league in defenseless player hits.
    Lawrence Taylor would need a part time job to pay for fines.
    Joe Montana would still set the QB standard.
    Walter Peyton would… well see Jim Brown.
    Johnny Unitas would be the best damn linebacker to deliver a head shot.
    Dick Butkus, Deacon Jones, Ronnie Lott, Rod Woodson, Steve Atwater, Jack Tatum, and Bruce Smith would be banned and possibly in jail for assault.

    Deion Sanders would be the League MVP.

  13. plain and simple..its a money grab. god forbid they do anything to speed up the game. they might lose out on the precious “ad revenue” they get from all the additional tv time outs. puke.

  14. Simple idea. And pretty neat as well as one poster said, it’s easy for newbies to follow. Would be a great help for those in far away seats with anything less than 20/20 vision. I’ve always had great seats at the games I’ve been to, but even in the best seats it’s pretty easy to lose track of certain plays depending on where it happens on the field. It’s worth a try in preseason.

  15. I understand that the yellow lines we see on tv are placed there using gps. Yet, these lines are “unofficial”. How are a bunch of geriatric dudes with chains attached to poles more accurate than satellite positioning? They want to improve the game? How about they discuss a more accurate method of measurement first.

  16. So the down linesman invites his ex wife to the game along with her lover as say a forgive me kinda thing, he knows where thier seats are and he points the laser in thier eyes and blinds them both, now you have a huge lawsuit to pay for. I think they could just inbed a gps tracker on the ball and keep it simple!!

  17. Maybe not display the First Down line while the play is going on, but instead of a “measurement”, the referee presses a button on his Bat Belt, and the laser light is then displayed from the pole.

    It would still reward the players that know how to find the first down sticks on their own, while eliminating one of the least accurate and most archaic delays in football.

    The referee presses a button on the belt, the laser lights up, Fox broadcasts a sound that represents a laser (picture one of your kids favorite toys with a laser… Fox would use THAT sound) and we immediately know if there is a first down.

  18. Why not just fire the line people that hold the chains n just put sensors on the field isn’t. It cheaper

  19. “It’s a moot point anyway. The “game of inches” and the measurement dog and pony show is a myth. It is a myth because the chain that everybody stares at when placed next to the ball is based on a WAG after a typical first down. They never mark where the ball is initially so the measurement is for show rather than accuracy.”

    I don’t understand what you are trying to say… Please elaborate.

  20. I’m not so sure this is such a good idea. The theory is good for the fans, but how much influence will this have on the ref’s spotting of the ball? You already have players and coaches berating refs in order to get a better spot, but if a ref has a line on the ground in front of him, is he going to be able to objectively place the ball on either side of the line? Will he feel any sort of pressure to place the ball closer to the line than he otherwise would? And how much would this actually improve the fan experience? It’s all well and good to say that technology is going to keep improving the game, but who’s to say this particular technology will?

    Not saying it shouldn’t be used at all, but I must admit, I’m very skeptical about it.

  21. Part of being a great football player is having field awareness. The player shouldn’t have a line across the field to show them where that line is. This shouldn’t even be brought up.

  22. Instead of making a visible first down line on the field, why not make integrate the first down line that they show on the broadcasts with the sticks so that line can be ‘official’?

    That way the refs can get an accurate view on those replays where the spot of the ball and forward progress require a review and the refs aren’t guessing whether to move it 6 inches forward.

    Plus it would give us more chances to laugh when Mike Pereria calls it one way and the refs go completely the other.

  23. For one, if it distracts or effects players in any way, its out of the question. That said, here is a business idea. Infa-red lasers, as well as other sideline type TV features, only visible to fans who pay 15 bucks for special glasses. Think a 3D movie, with the prices jacked, as per the NFLs business model

  24. Start by turning it off during plays so that it doesn’t benefit the offense, but fans have a clearer site of it between plays.

    The biggest benefit may be to the click because we won’t need to watch them walk the chains on and off the field anymore.

  25. So, with 22 bodies flying around what are the chances that the laser would actually be able to create that line across the entire field? Seems one foot in the way would negate the whole..players could see where they need to get for the first down ideas. Also seems the laser would need to be turned off during the play for safety reasons.

    As a simple as easy way to check for first downs, sounds reasonable which means it won’t be implemented.

  26. In an age of GPS technology, its astounding that the NFL or Wilson cant devise a thin layer of ‘foil’ to cover the balls bladder which could be easily tracked and located… The fact that such an important facet of the game is still left up to the human eye is ludicrous!!

  27. gab5040 says:
    Jan 23, 2013 2:03 AM
    I don’t understand what you are trying to say… Please elaborate.
    Outside of touchbacks or other instances where the ball is by rule placed at a specific yard line the starting point is a guess. If a pass is completed for an obvious first down, the referee places the ball on the field and signals first down. The chains are never used to establish a starting point for the next first down play. It is a guess or approximation from the middle of the field to the sideline. Then if the team manages to gain between 9.5 to 10.5 yards, they bring out the chains. If the chains are not initially set (down to the inch) to where the first down initially was, how can they be used to determine where the line to gain is down to the inch? It is essentially like breaking off the beginning of a ruler and then trying to accurately measure 6 inches based on where you think the beginning of the ruler should be.

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