The NFL will begin to more fully embrace technology this year, placing computer chips in footballs. On Tuesday’s PFT Live on NBC Sports Radio, NFL V.P. of officiating Dean Blandino explained how the chips will, and won’t, be used.
“This is something that the Competition Committee went through, and we’re going to use chips during the preseason in all of the footballs and then the Committee will review the data and then make a recommendation for using the footballs on Thursday nights [during the regular season] with chips in them,” Blandino said. “So that’s not set yet but based on the information we receive in the preseason they will make a recommendation one way or the other, and this is a part of our ‘Next Gen Stats’ platform. We’ll look at some things, if we can glean some information based on the distance of the football from the upright and as we study the distance between the uprights and potentially shortening that distance going forward.”
Apart from studying kick clearance with an eye toward possibly narrowing the goalposts, Blandino said the chips will have other uses.
“I think right now the focus is on statistics and miles per hour and location of the football,” Blandino said. “Obviously, if we know the location of the football then you start thinking about, well, the location in relation to the goal line.”
Could chip technology be used to determine whether, for example, a touchdown has been scored?
“That gets a little more complicated because you have a runner who part of his body is down and you have to know when the body part was down, the knee, the elbow, whatever it is,” Blandino said. “So I think that’s down the line but it’s an interesting concept and something that we’ll continue to explore.”