NFL tested optical tracking on line-to-gain rulings during 2023 season, unclear how many owners support it


There could be a dramatic change coming to the way the NFL operates on a down-to-down basis. 

According to CBS Sports NFL Insider Jonathan Jones, the league tested optical tracking on line-to-gain rulings at both MetLife Field and Hard Rock Stadium throughout the 2023 season, as well as at the Super Bowl earlier this year. If there is support from enough owners, the league could move to optical tracking rather than the so-called “chain gang” as early as the 2024 season, Jones reports.

At the moment, it’s unclear how much support there is among ownership to make the switch. And as Jones notes, it could be difficult to outfit all 30 NFL stadiums and international stadiums with the requisite technology in time for the upcoming season. But it’s notable that it is being tested, because it indicates a willingness to move in that direction in the future.

Line-to-gain and spot-of-the-ball issues are not of the judgment call variety that the NFL can’t feasibly eliminate. If the league can ensure a way that the ball is spotted more accurately than it is with the current, obviously archaic system of referees eyeballing it from yards away from the play, it should do just that. 

Of course, what the league “should” do has never really stopped it from doing certain things before, so nothing is guaranteed. But if the league can make sure the technology works and can be installed where it needs to be installed, it should be a no-brainer to get this passed by the competition committee and then a full ownership vote.





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