Hey, Tom Brady — deflate this football at your own risk.
The NFL confirmed a Toronto Sun report that customized data chips will be inserted into all game balls for the 2016 preseason, beginning next month.
“This is a test for the preseason as part of the next phase of the Next Gen Stats player tracking project,” an NFL rep told us. “Following the preseason test, the Competition Committee will review the results to determine how the balls performed along with the potential uses of the data collected.”
The rep added that there’s potential for the information to be used in the future via media platforms such as NFL.com and also in-game telecasts, including Thursday Night Football regular-season games this year.
Narrowing the goalposts could be one of the results from this experiment, as the ball’s proximity to the uprights will be measured during field goals and point after touchdown attempts. The data chips will also gauge how far the ball travels on particular plays.
With the data chips, not only could the NFL measure the closeness of field goals made through the uprights, but also estimate how many kicks would be missed if the uprights were closer together. This comes after kickers made a whopping 84.5 percent of their field goal attempts last season, seemingly spelling that the extra three points might be too easy for teams right now and thus prompting a change.
ESPN additionally reports that veteran quarterbacks actually want computer chips in game balls. Their only ask is that the footballs feel the same in the hand as those without chips.
The data chips in game balls would have NFL players carrying a wider tech load. In each of the past two seasons, the league has embedded RFID chips in players’ shoulder pads, tracking their GPS location on the field, velocity and distance ran. At this rate, we wouldn’t be surprised if the NFL devised a plan to track its players off the field, too.