The NFL Announces It Will Run a Trial Throughout The Preseason For Electronically Measuring First Downs, Which Could Sideline The Chain Gang Once And For All

Dustin Bradford. Getty Images.

The NFL is coming off the heels of a terrible year of officiating. Every week was a disaster, whether it be roughing the passer botches, pass interference call, or something as simple as spotting the ball. Well, it seems that one of those areas is about to see a makeover. Finally. 

(CBS Sports) The NFL is moving forward this preseason with an optical tracking system for line-to-gain rulings, sources tell CBS Sports. The system had been tried out in a few NFL stadiums this past season, and it will get a full preseason trial this summer.

If the trial goes well and everyone's on board, the tracking system will be implemented full time for the 2024 NFL regular season, sources say.

In March, the NFL's competition committee quietly approved its use across all teams in the preseason. But before the league fully implements it for the full season, it wants to make sure the system works well enough to be trusted.

It really is crazy that to this point in time we are still using the fucking chain gang to measure first downs. If aliens came down and got an overview of the way things worked then stayed for a football game, they'd laugh at us. They'd hesitate to helping us out after seeing how stupid and stubborn we are. The NFL is an entity worth over 100 billion dollars and we still decide major moments like this. 

Even fans of an archaic, old-time sport like baseball could tell you that's ridiculous. For fuck's sake, even tennis transitioned to fully automated line calls. If only there was technology out there in the world to not only speed up the process of measuring a first down, but also increasing the accuracy of those calls? Oh wait, there is!

I do get that there is that silly fun to two human refs crouching down and staring at a tiny link of the chain and getting out an index card to measure the closest of calls, but we gotta stop this shit. For those against change, that's what you want? You're already changing kickoffs, why not get the first downs correct while we're at it? Does getting the call correct all the time really hurt the game? 

Something I always get a kick out of is a short yardage play from like the two or one where there's this giant scrum at the goal line. Both refs sprint in from opposite sidelines, stare at the pile, stare at each other, try to get on the same page, and then announce their coin-flip decision in real time. I'd say those plays are being called with like 60% accuracy, and that might be generous. Maybe we fix that chaos and just get the call right? 

Electronic first down measuring and the eye in the sky correcting obvious fuck ups? There might be hope. 

Just focus on the good and forget about the hip drop tackle that got banned and how poorly that rule is going to be judged. 

P.S. Next thing we gotta tackle is figuring out where a punt went out of bounds. There isn't a shot in hell that a ref can accurately figure that out as they're running to the spot, with the sideline in play, and the ball in the air. 

P.P.S. Can we get this technology to college football as well? If you thought NFL refs were bad, give that car crash a look. If you're within two yards of the marker they give you the first. It's asinine.