Most fans watching the games at home have gotten used to the yellow first down marker that was implemented years ago that signifies how far a player has to go to move the chains and continue the drive, but on the field all players are able to do is try and find the sticks on the sideline.
Fans who are up in the stands are then left to try and gauge by their own eyesight whether or not the player has advanced the ball far enough, and then, of course, there’s the inexact science of the officials coming out on the field for a measurement that doesn’t always appear as accurate as it could be.
Apparently, there’s someone out there looking to change that.
According to USA TODAY Alan Amron is pushing for a product that he’s developed that will bring that line to live games, and the league is working with him on the possibility of eventually making it a reality. ¬†Amron, who is the inventor and founder of First Down Laser Systems, said ¬†he’s met with NFL executives several times, and recently completed the system they’ve wanted.
“Everybody knows about us, but until something like this happens, they don’t realize how important having the (first-down) line on the field just like you see on TV is to the game,” Amron told USA TODAY. ¬†”This is the first year the NFL is considering fan experience number one. What better for fan experience than having the line they’re used to at home in the stadium, where they’re paying $200 a seat?”
He makes a good point, and it will likely change the game if and when it happens. ¬†Imagine as a player being able to visually see where you need to get to in order to convert the first down, that would definitely be a huge advantage. ¬†It also gives the defense a little added incentive to be able to know exactly where it is they have to keep the opposing player from reaching.
Although the latter idea is just a thought. ¬†According to the article it would be something that would be “turned on” when a measurement is needed, unless of course the league decides to leave it on all the time. With the NFL pushing to improve the live game experience, it would make sense that having it on at all times would make the most sense.
The system reportedly includes a projector mounted at the base of the first down flagstick containing nothing but aluminum mirrors, plus a small fiber-optic cable. The cable runs underground into a tunnel, where it connects to a 100-watt laser measuring approximately 3 feet by 3 feet.
Here’s a video below showing a demonstration by the late Pat Summerall years ago of the system, which according to Amron would cost about $180,000 to $245,000 per stadium:
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