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Report of elimination pylons and first-down markers is premature

A football sits atop a pylon prior to a NFL football game between the Arizona Cardinals and the Carolina Panthers, Sunday, Oct. 6, 2013, in Glendale, Ariz. (AP Photo/Rick Scuteri)


The item posted Wednesday by CNN Money suggests that a revolution could be coming for the NFL. The truth is far less definitive.

“NFL says it has tech to eliminate pylons and first-down markers,” the headline declares. Contained therein are a series of quotes and assertions from various people that are pieced together to create the impression that major changes aren’t simply possible, but are coming soon.

There’s only one problem. All of the quotes and statements come from a video produced by regarding the future of officiating, something the NFL describes to PFT as an “editorial piece” aimed at allowing the imagination to consider the various future possibilities.

Although the article overstates the status of the potential changes to the game, the NFL should seriously consider all technologies now available, not in conjunction with enhancing the current officiating function but as part of an effort to tear down the current system and rebuild it.

If sensors embedded in footballs, shoes, and/or gloves along with fixed cameras blanketing the field can provide precise, real-time information about whether a player has gotten out of bounds or whether the ball has crossed the plane of the goal line or whether the player was down before losing possession of the football, most of the on-field officials -- who continuously prove that the naked eye can’t process reliably in real-time events happening right in front of it -- could be moved upstairs, with each one monitoring video feeds and helping a small handful of on-field officials with the information they need to make the calls, administer penalties, and otherwise ensure that they are getting things right.

And that continues to be (or at least should be) the league’s overriding goal. As the opening narration to the item at asks, “Will technology replace officials and bad calls forever?”

At some point, the first two words of that statement need to be flipped, and the punctuation mark needs to be adjusted.