The broadcast comes back from commercial, and he’s still standing here. For what seems like 15 minutes, the official has stood there, motionless, a head set covering his ears and the talk back box in his left hand. His eyes stare into the distance, and his lips do not move. With something resembling a grumble, the announcer says, “Let’s go look at the replay one more time.”
The bar shakes as the man two seats to your left slams his mug to the wood and breaks two hours of silence. “Just put a chip in the ball already!”
Ah, but only if it was truly that simple.
Peter King conducted a live podcast recording at the Super Bowl earlier this month, and a listener asked guest Mike Pereira, formerly the head of NFL officiating-turned-the world’s first officiating analyst for Fox, why couldn’t the NFL just put a microchip in the football to move the process of spotting a football from art to science.
There already is a chip in the football, Pereira said, but not why you think. Pereira says the NFL implanted a chip to measure a kicked ball’s distance from the goal posts as an experiment to see if they could tighten the posts and make field goals more difficult. As for measuring the spot of a dead ball, he said technology wouldn’t help.
“You can put a chip in the ball, but then you better put a chip in the guy’s knee, too,” Pereira said. “The ball is one thing, but it’s not over until the knee hits the ground or the shoulder hits the ground. How accurate is that going to be?”
Pereira also offered another rebuttal to the idea. This one is less practical, but still a hurdle nonetheless.
“Although I feel like we’re taking the game so far off the field now with technology, I am concerned that we go a little bit too far. I’m also a little bit of a traditionalist,” he said. “You could put up lasers to replace the chain crews, for example, but I love the tradition of some old guys running out there with the chain.”
Hear for yourself around the 75-minute mark.