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USFL to Use Chip in Ball for First Downs, Eliminate Chains

The USFL‘s inaugural season debuts on April 16 with first-down technology introduced to the game.

Ahead of next week’s season opener, the league debuted how it will decide first downs using technology that measures more accurately.

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In preseason games over the weekend, a first-down measuring system was introduced that doesn’t involve the chains the NFL uses. Instead, the USFL will have chips implanted in footballs that can determine if the ball has reached the first-down marker.

Similar to the measuring system used to determine if a tennis ball is in or out, the USFL will use the chip and a virtual yellow first-down line that will measure if the ball crossed the first down line or not via the virtual replay system.

CBS Sports reports that the NFL currently uses a chip in its footballs, which are used to track Next Gen stats but not for officiating.

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Not only will 16 players be mic’d up each game, but every USFL game will have two skycams broadcasting.

Two players from each team will also be wearing helmet cams throughout the game, which is similar to the “Ump Cams” FOX used in the early 2000s for games.

All eight USFL teams will play next weekend, including the inaugural game between the New Jersey Generals and Birmingham Stallions on April 16 at 7:30 p.m. 

Week 1:

Generals at Stallions, April 16, 7:30 p.m. ET, FOX, NBC, Peacock

Houston Gamblers at Michigan Panthers, April 17, noon ET, NBC, Peacock

Philadelphia Stars vs. New Orleans Breakers, April 17, 4 p.m. ET, USA

Tampa Bay Bandits at Pittsburgh Maulers, April 17, 8 p.m. ET, FS1


All games will be played in Birmingham, Alabama, for the inaugural season, and tickets can be purchased at theUSFL.com. More coverage on the USFL can be read here.


Follow Meg Turner on Twitter @Megnturner_ and Instagram @Megnturner


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Written by Megan Turner

Megan graduated from the University of Central Florida and writes and tweets about anything related to sports. She replies to comments she shouldn't reply to online and thinks the CFP Rankings are absolutely rigged. Follow her on Twitter at @Megnturner_ and Instagram at @Megnturner.

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