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NFL will explore narrowing the uprights by putting chips in footballs


The issue of computer chips being placed inside footballs has emerged from time to time, as a device for determining goal-line and boundary issues. It’s now coming up in a different context.

As reported by John Kryk of the Toronto Sun, the NFL will be placing computer chips in footballs to assess whether and to what extent goal posts should be narrowed.

“The discussion has really revolved around narrowing the uprights,” NFL V.P. of officiating Dean Blandino told Kryk. “That would be one way to affect both the extra point and the field goal. [Success rates] have continued to climb over the years as our field goal kickers and that whole process has become so specialized, from long snapper to holder to kicker. . . . We’ll do some studies this year.”

The chips will track how close made kicks already are coming to the goal posts, which then would be used to determine how much more narrow the goal posts would have to be in order to make kicks harder, but presumably not too difficult.

For now, the experiment will be confined to the preseason. It could extend to Thursday night games in the regular season. Blandino didn’t rule out the goal posts narrowing as soon as next year.

“You never know,” Blandino said. “We’ll see what the data tells us. The [Competition Committee] will discuss it and then make a recommendation for 2017 if they feel that we need to go that route. But I wouldn’t know at this point, without seeing how it goes this year.”

The study also should take into account the distance by which the kicks clear the crossbar. If the goal is to reduce the number of made kicks, pushing the bar higher than 10 feet also should be an option.