Today I Learned: NFL Footballs Are Microchipped
I was today years old when I learned that NFL footballs are microchipped.
Hello, my name is John and I am an occasional sports fan.
Die-hard sports fans might have known this tidbit about footballs used in National Football League games, but I certainly didn't. And more than 10 people around me that I just asked didn't know either.
So why does it appear to be such a secret?
The folks over at Daily Caller asked the same question.
Andrew Powell's recent story is how I learned about the microchipping of NFL footballs, and his story asks some really good questions.
Powell pointed out that the "news" of there being microchips in NFL footballs wasn't really spread around when the initial article came out - it didn't go viral.
It was Yahoo!, according to Powell, that first reported on the chips in the balls back in 2021, even though the NFL began using the technology in 2017. It appears that no other news outlet picked up on the story, so it just kind of fizzled.
But recent tweets from Next Gen Stats now have people talking.
The tweet spoke about the speed of a few players from a recent game which, even without a chip, can be easily calculated - especially with all of those marks on the field.
But when Next Gen Stats tweeted about a player's distance to the goal line, heads (including mine) turned.
According to the chip in the football, the closest the ball got to the end zone was 0.6 yards from the goal line. - Next Gen Stats
So if there is a chip in the ball, why don't we use the chip information during the game?
The referees are good. Actually, they are usually very good. And if one misses a call because of a bad angle or something, there are other sets of eyes that will probably catch it.
Do referees make bad calls? Most definitely (I was watching the Saints/Rams playoff game a few years back).
I know that a chip in the ball would not have been able to help with what is now known as the worst missed call in NFL history, but why don't referees, when there is a question a chip can answer, use that information to make calls? Or at least clarify calls?
Powell asks the same question in the article, and he himself admits that he has no clue why the NFL isn't using the chips more during the games (it appears that the chips are used to show when a punt lands out-of-bounds).
Can there ever be a replacement for real, live officials? Probably not, but using the chip technology - in addition to the current technology (instant replay, etc) - might alleviate some of the ire directed toward the real, live officials.