NFL Plans to Use Chip-Equipped Game Balls Moving Ahead

Of all the concerns likely to create confusion in the NFL, no one ever really thought that game balls would become a factor. However, that is what has happened, so much so that there is less interest in conversations about NFL picks today as people ponder the NFL’s decision to use data chips in game balls.

It should be noted that the NFL is still in the process of finalizing plans. However, there is every reason to expect the league to begin using custom-made data chips in game balls, especially the ones used in the 2016 preseason and Thursday Night regular season games.

This is more than just another experiment by the NFL. The data that the chips will collect will be analyzed and used to initiate many significant changes especially when it comes to officiating and kicking. These changes could take effect as early as the 2017 season and there is no telling how they will impact the game. 

There have been rumors flying about for a while now that the NFL was introducing these data chips primarily with the aim of determining how the narrowing of goalposts might impact games in the future. A recent report from the Toronto Sun has given these rumors a little more credence. 

And according to a league source, the NFL has so many more plans in the works depending on the data they collect. They will be looking to determine how close each kick comes to the upright. Determining the answers to this question will help the NFL figure out how many additional kicks might be missed if they chose to bring the uprights closer to one another. 

A lot of people are still talking about the NFL’s decision to add a level of difficulty to the extra points. By pushing them back to 33-yards, the NFL saw a notable reduction in the conversion rates. 

Whether or not you supported this decision, it is worth keeping in mind the fact that field goals stand at historic levels, with NFL place-kickers making 84.5 percent of field goal attempts in 2015.

This is the second-best rate in the history of the NFL. With these data chips being inserted into game balls, the NFL will be able to determine how close kicks come to the uprights.

If you think that is the full extent of the chip program, though, you are sadly mistaken. All 32 teams have already been informed of intentions to fit game balls with data chips and, apparently, the whole project progressed partly in response to feedback from some veteran quarterbacks.

The veterans were expected to test chip-equipped game balls to determine whether they varied from the traditional football in anywhere, especially with regards to how they acted in the air. 

The chip project as a whole is hardly as novel as some people presume. The NFL has been contemplating the idea of using data chips to improve the science of ball placement. 

One thing’s for sure; data chips, when used appropriately, might make officials’ decisions more accurate, especially if they can confirm with greater accuracy whether or not a ball has crossed the goal line.

  • Loretta Pittman