Report: NFL Could Implement Chain Gang Replacement in 2024 Season

NFL referee Walt Anderson spots the ball after measuring with the chains during a game between the San Francisco 49ers and Arizona Cardinals.
NFL referee Walt Anderson spots the ball after measuring with the chains during a game between the San Francisco 49ers and Arizona Cardinals. / Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

"Bringing out the chains" may be a thing of the past in the NFL.

The NFL intends to move forward with an optical tracking system for line-to-gain rulings, according to CBS Sports, with plans to test out the system during the 2024 preseason. If successful, and if it is approved by NFL owners, the league could implement the new tracking technique for the upcoming campaign.

Implementation of the new optical tracking system would effectively demote the chain gang to a backup role. They'll still exist in some capacity, though they'll no longer be the primary method of determining an accurate spot of the football.

Of course, seeing the new system during the 2024 regular season hinges on the trial run this preseason. If it doesn't seem ready for launch for the season, it's possible the league waits until 2025 to make the change, with the chain gang maintaining their responsibilities for another season.

The new system would help the league reduce the amount of human error that occurs during line-to-gain rulings. It would be a significant change for the league as it continues to look for ways to introduce new technology to enhance the game.


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Karl Rasmussen

KARL RASMUSSEN

Karl Rasmussen is a writer on Sports Illustrated’s Breaking & Trending News Team. A University of Oregon alum, his work has appeared on 12up and ClutchPoints. He’s a loyal Tottenham, Jets, Yankees and Ducks fan.