The NFL’s gold penalty flag has its golden anniversary

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There is no mistaking the penalty flag when it flies out of an official’s hand and onto the playing surface.

Which is precisely the point.

Fifty years ago this week, the NFL changed the color of its penalty flags from white to gold. According to the Associated Press, two factors keyed the change. One, the referee’s white hat was used to spot the ball, so a gold flag would eliminate any confusion about what was being tossed. Two, papers occasionally fluttered onto the field, and a gold flag couldn’t be mistaken for a Polish sausage wrapper.

So everyone, do wish the gold penalty flag a happy golden anniversary. The flag is cheered, and it is jeered, but it has never been confused for the wax paper covering a Polish sausage.