The NFL plans to put microchips in every football during the 2017 season, but the chips will not be used to help the officials.
Instead, Daniel Kaplan of Sports Business Journal reports, the chips will be used as part of the NFL’s “Next Gen Stats,” which track player performance.
The league already puts chips on every player’s shoulder pads for the Next Gen Stats, and having chips in footballs as well will allow teams to track everything from how fast a quarterback throws a football to how well a defensive back moves toward the ball while it’s in the air. Next Gen Stats are closely guarded secrets, with only a tiny portion of them ever becoming public.
The NFL has previously put chips in kicking balls to determine how significant the change would be if the goal posts were narrowed. There’s long been a movement to put chips in footballs to help determine when a ball crosses the goal line, but logistical challenges have prevented that from happening.
Falcons President Rich McKay, the chairman of the competition committee, says the full scope of the way the data from chips in footballs will be used won’t be known until after the season. But it will be a significant amount of data that the league has never had before.