REPORT: NFL Is Testing Electric System To Measure 1st Downs And Replace Chains

The National Football League for years has been criticized for using chains to measure first downs during games and change could be coming.

According to the Washington Post’s Mark Maske, the NFL is testing a system that measures first-down officiating decisions electronically. The technology would then allow the NFL to eliminate first-down chains to decide whether a player reached the line to gain.

Maske also noted that the electronic system could be ready for use next season, but NFL executive vice president of football operations Troy Vincent said the 2025 season is a more realistic date for extensive use of the system.

Pro Football Talk’s Michael David Smith added to the report that the technology the league is testing was developed by Hawk-Eye, the computer vision system used in tennis to assist with video replays. It would help referees get a more accurate read of the position of the ball and players when reviewing the line to gain.


Smith also reported that the league is testing the technology around the sidelines, goal lines and end lines as well as first-down markers.

The NFL’s chain gang is out an outdated system and it’s finally time for a change.