The NFL’s Mountain of Unusable Data

Each player is equipped with a chip that gives coaches a trove of new metrics—but finding an application for this has proven tricky

Photo: Illustration by Mark Matcho

By Matthew Futterman

Each player in Sunday’s Super Bowl will have a computer chip attached to his shoulder pad that tracks his every movement, part of a two-year-old program that opens the league and its fans to a whole new world of statistical possibility.

Yet this initiative is so far under the radar that plenty of players still aren’t aware the league is tracking and measuring them like this. “I didn’t even know there was a chip in my shoulder pad,” said Falcons wide receiver Justin Hardy this week.

An even bigger mystery for league officials, coaches and dataheads is what to do with this new trove of information. The idea was that, by tracking the speed, location, and movement of players, teams and fans could create metrics that would reveal who moved fastest in key situations, covered the most ground on defense or found the open areas in a zone defense most often.

Read the full article here.

Share this article