The Alliance of American Football has made data analysis a top priority, and part of that is putting chips in every football to track the speed and trajectory of balls that are thrown and kicked. Unfortunately, that means no giving footballs to fans as souvenirs.
Trent Richardson found that out the hard way on Sunday.
Richardson, the Alabama star turned NFL draft bust, scored two touchdowns in his AAF debut, and after the second one, he spiked the ball with authority, and it bounced high and into the stands. After conferring for a moment, the officials hit Richardson with a 15-yard penalty.
That wouldn’t be a penalty in the NFL, but as explained by FootballZebras.com, the AAF wants to hold onto all its footballs for budgetary reasons. Apparently those chips are too expensive for a startup league to afford giving them to fans.
Perhaps a better option than a 15-yard penalty would be to require players who toss footballs into the stands to reimburse the league for the cost of the footballs. A 15-yard penalty is awfully steep for something as minor as spiking a football.