NFL data chips in game balls won't extend to psi reading, source says

ByKevin Seifert ESPN logo
Tuesday, July 19, 2016

News that the NFL will use data chips in its game footballs this summer spawned a natural question in the Deflategate era:

Will the technology provide real-time psi (pounds per square inch) measurements?

The answer is no, according to a person with intimate knowledge of the system the NFL is using.

However, the technology exists and could be added to the arrangement if the league desires. The addition would be similar to the tool that warns automobile drivers that their tires are underinflated.

After years of internal discussion, the NFL is moving forward with a plan to insert a three-gram chip inside every game football used in the 2016 preseason and likely during the Thursday night regular-season schedule, as well. The data is part of the league's NextGen program that culls tracking and exertion information from every player and official on the field during games.

The football chip will provide information ranging from its precise location during kicks to the velocity of throws by quarterbacks, but there is no indication that the NFL has plans to use it for psi measurements. NFL commissioner Roger Goodell has said he is satisfied with what he explained were strengthened pregame and in-game policies for ball inflation and chain of custody during the 2015 season.

The league fined the New England Patriots $1 million, took away two draft choices and suspended quarterback Tom Brady for what it determined was a scheme to use underinflated footballs in the 2014 AFC Championship Game.

NFL security made random spot checks of ball inflation during the 2015 season, and Goodell said there were no violations of policy.

The league has not released the psi readings it found during those spot checks.