As I sit and watch a coaches challenge on the spot of the football in the Seattle Seahawks vs. Minnesota Vikings game, I keep wondering when the NFL will fix their first down marker problem.
SPOILER ALERT: Seattle won.
What problem do you say? The fact that there is not a first down marker. Not on the field of play, where it’s needed most.
Sure the players can glance to the sideline to see where the first down markers are. That’s not exactly the best thing to do as you’re trying to elude a pissed off linebacker who is paid to prevent first downs by any means necessary.
Would it not be simpler to see the first down marker directly in front of the offensive player? You think Adrian Peterson has time to look at the hash marks while he’s gashing a defense at 21.89 mph to make sure he counted off eight marks on 3rd and eight?
Russell Westbrook doesn’t have to check the sideline to line up a three point shot. He just has to look right in front of his feet to know he is in the proper spot to get a three-pointer off in the NBA. Same for the free throw line. You don’t see guys looking to an assistant coach to make sure their toes aren’t past the free throw marker that is painted off the court.
I get that the first down marker is different. It moves as the offense marches down the field. It’s not a stationary mark like in basketball.
That doesn’t make it an impossible problem to fix. It hasn’t been that long ago when fans didn’t have any better view of the first down marker than the ballers. Sportvision made the TV viewing experience better for football fans in 1998 with their original digital yellow line inserted on the television screen. This little company solved the problem of viewers having to wait for the archaic chains to be dragged onto the field to measure for a first down or for the ref to eyeball the spot.
I just cannot fathom how the first down marking issue has not been addressed on the field, where it matters most. I wish Sportvision had solved this matter in the physical world before advancing the digital universe. Much better for Julio Jones to see exactly where the ball needs to end up for a first down during the two-minute drill than for Joe Q. Fan to be in the know.
I must be the only one on the planet who cares about this issue. I know it isn’t as important as world peace or starving punters across the globe. It does matter, though. Here we have the most popular sport in America missing a key component that matters on each play, and no one is talking about it. If this was the 1980s, I would understand no improvement in the first down marking system. But we are well beyond those dark ages of standard definition TV, five channels to watch, and dreadlockless defensive backs.
Surely some startup company is out there willing to solve this simple problem and make a ton of money in the process. It cannot be that there is no way to mark a first down with a laser, disappearing paint, or maybe a convoy of fluorescent ladybugs. Anything that shows the players where they need to get to in order to get a first down, without impeding his progress with a tripwire marker.
This new technology would benefit the offense, and we know how the NFL loves to help out offenses any way possible. Ball carriers would know exactly where the first down marker was so more drives would be extended, thus scoring would go up. There would be fewer fumbles as well since offensive guys wouldn’t risk sticking the ball out past their bodies if they can clearly see they are too far from the on field marker.
Even defensive players couldn’t complain since they would be better able to defend their territory….by actually knowing where their territory is in relation to ten-yard chunks.
If one of you readers should get the ball rolling on this new first down marking technology, you can feel free to chip me off $343,000 or 11 percent of the revenue. Whatever is easier for your accountant. I’d love to see this technology implemented whether I see any profit or not.
Actually, I am not above suing, so I guess I am more interested in getting paid than I am in Russell Wilson extending drives a bit easier with some new on the field first down indicator.
Hit me up on Twitter for my Paypal address.