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New NFL Technology is Changing the Game

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The National Football League is one of the most popular American sports, with hundreds of millions of fans tuning in for the Super Bowl every year. Eighteen weeks of entertaining play, and four weeks of high-stakes playoffs. That is what fans like us see, but there is more to the NFL than what meets the eye.

Next Gen Stats

In 2019, the NFL collaborated with Next Gen Stats, powered by AWS, to show stats in real-time and improve safety technology. Videos on, the official site of the NFL, will sometimes be shown with the tag “powered by AWS”. The videos show stats from the games, such as the chance of a completed pass, a touchdown, and the speed of a ball carrier. During NFL game broadcasts, there is a NGS version you can watch that shows stats in real time, like ball carrying speed and air yards of a pass. These stats help analysts understand the game better, and helps the players learn more in the film room, while they are watching their opponent’s plays. But NGS is not only used in the film room, but also on the sidelines by coaching staff. Through Microsoft Surface tablets, players are rewatching their plays to find mistakes and constantly improve their game. NGS goes through these tablets as well. But Next Gen Stats don’t only show statistics. They are also helping reduce injuries in the sport.

A study by the Boston University CTE Center showed that CTE (chronic traumatic encephalopathy) was present in 345 out of 376 (91.7%) of NFL players. CTE is a form of brain damage related to repeated head injury. As Next Gen Stats continues to gather information about the game, it gives chances of injuries on hits and also has changed the design of helmets over recent years. Concussions in the NFL have reduced by 24% since Next Gen Stats’ introduction. (

With all this advanced technology, you may be wondering: Why does the league still use chains and sticks to measure the downs?

Down Measuring

If you are a big fan of the NFL, you know that they measure downs with two big orange sticks and a chain between them. The referees judge whether or not the player has a first down. Some of these decisions have been controversial, as was the case in a college game between South Carolina and Michigan. On one fourth-down play that would have caused the ball to go to South Carolina if it was short, the ref ruled it a first down, although it was clear that the ball was short of the first down. South Carolina was upset, most notably Jadeveon Clowney, the defensive end. On the very next play, he went right through the offensive line and hit Michigan running back Vincent Smith so hard his helmet went flying off. The play resulted in a fumble recovered by South Carolina. However, that doesn’t change the fact that referees make controversial decisions based on downs. Despite all this new sideline and even in-game technology, they still haven’t changed how the downs are measured. This has caused the NFL community to cry out asking for better down-measuring technology.

Despite this minor misstep, the Next Gen Stats era is starting a new age in the National Football League, improving many aspects of the game and making it even more entertaining.


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