On Sunday, a league source disclosed that the NFL will be putting data chips in footballs for preseason and Thursday-night games. This could impact field goal attempts and officiating as early as 2017. The chips could be used to determine when players get first downs and touchdowns, without relying on the chains. Also, if kickers aren’t even coming close to the uprights, the NFL could consider making field goals and extra points more difficult by narrowing the target.
Clearly the NFL is trending towards making kickers’ lives more difficult, after moving extra points back last year. Personally, I think this is a great call. Games can still be high-scoring, but now we bring a little more respect to the kicking position and let the clutch players thrive when they have to squeak the ball through some narrow uprights. If this was soccer, I’d say make the goals bigger, to increase the conversion rate on shots. But in the NFL, kickers are already converting over 80% of field goals, so we could use some more difficulty.
The one thing that concerns me is that this is coming in the wake of Brady’s reinstated suspension. Is a “data chip” really a pressure sensor that is going to fuck Tom if the ball so much as fluctuates by 0.001 psi? Or are we about to see games sabotaged with this kind of technology: