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NFL to try electronic measurements during 2024 preseason

Tyler Conklin, NY Jets, TE, First Down, NFL, Rule Change
Tyler Conklin, New York Jets, Getty Images

The NFL’s traditional sticks and train could be in jeopardy

A big change could potentially be coming to the NFL in 2024.

The league plans to experiment with electronic measurements for first downs instead of the traditional sticks-and-chain during the 2024 preseason. If the Competition Committee approves the plan after the preseason, the system will become the new NFL normal.

Some NFL old-timers may object that this weakens the integrity of the game. However, the truth is that it strengthens the integrity by ensuring accurate measurements. No more index cards from Gene Steratore. It’s akin to robotic umpires in baseball (or at least the challenge system currently making its way through the minor leagues); accuracy should trump human error every time, even if it’s different from the traditional way the game has been played.

In the era of super slow-motion instant replay, cameras in the pylon, and the ever-expanding sky judge, the sticks and chain stand out like an eyesore. Young fans struggle to understand why it still exists. Even the NFL owners (average age 75 or something like that) seemingly recognize its futility.

For Jets fans angry about constant perceived bias from the officials, this knocks one possibility for bias off the list. (With Aaron Rodgers at quarterback, perhaps the roughing the passer disparities will also diminish.)

While this change isn’t flashy like the kickoff rule change, it will have an unnoticeable but significantly positive impact on the game. It’s difficult to envision a scenario in which the system is not approved.

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