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The Loop

This may shock you to hear, but the New England Patriots were beneficiaries of another horrific NFL spot on Sunday night

November 16, 2020

Spider-cams, instant replay booths, NFL Redzone, something called “sports science.” Football has been part of the modern world for a long time now—since they decided to start superimposing yellow lines on the field, fooling every grandpa in the universe, to be semi-exact. You can call a flea flicker via a Microsoft tablet and the opposing cornerback will tweet about it at halftime. This is the football we know and (sometimes) love in the year 2020. But somehow, some way, there is one thing that hasn’t made the jump to lightspeed:

Spotting the football.

On Sunday night, the New England Patriots were up a touchdown on the Baltimore Ravens with just over 10 minutes to play. On third and 1, Cam Newton kept it himself and drove forward into the pile. When the whistle blew, the line judges came running in from like 20 yards away to spot the football where they thought it probably was based entirely on the naked, middle-aged eye. Placing his right foot about a half yard short of that aforementioned yellow line, line judge no. 101 picked up the football and promptly shuffled it forward a full foot right there on live TV for everyone to see. First down Patriots, and, eventually, the victory too.

Now it would be easy enough to shout “CONSPIRACY!” here. Lord knows that Patriots have had a few of those over the years. But really this is more about the draconian methods of spotting the football still employed by the highest echelons of the sport some 4.543 billion years after the formation of the earth. I mean, they’re still using LITERAL CHAINS. What sort of Arthurian dystopia are we living in here?

And it’s not just the Pats and it’s not just the NFL. We saw the same phenomena play out in last year’s Georgia Bowl, when Indiana found themselves on the wrong end of this doozy.

This is A LOT of damn words about spotting the football, which is unfortunate because we should be talking about DeAndre Hopkins or Tua Tagovailoa this morning instead. So let’s just cut to the chase: Automate this shit. Turn it over to the robots, go home, put your feet up, and watch as they slowly take over the world, piece by innocuous piece. Sure, we’ll be slaves to the SkyNet machine, but at least we’ll be getting THE FIRST DOWN CALLS RIGHT.