According to the Toronto Sun, the NFL will put microchips into game balls during the preseason and Thursday night games, the purpose of which is to track how easily balls are clearing the uprights on field goal attempts.
As the Sun points out, field goal conversion rates reached an all-time high of 85 percent over the last three seasons, and the league is not too thrilled about that. NFL senior vice president of officiating, Dean Blandino, confirmed with the Sun that the NFL is looking into ways to make field goal kicking more difficult.
Hence the chips, which would give the league precise data that they could then use to narrow the uprights to a degree that would yield the desired conversion rate. Who knows what that rate is, but any rule change that lessens the number of drives that conclude with a long field goal attempt on fourth-and-short is one that should make the game a bit more exciting.
Beyond tracking field goals, it’s easy to imagine how microchipped footballs could be useful in other areas of the game. Wouldn’t it be nice if a microchip could tell us exactly when a football crossed the first-down marker or the goal line? Knowing the NFL, though, the league would probably find a way for microchipped balls to somehow add more replay reviews and referee huddles to its already eternal game broadcasts.