In response to increasingly more streamlined technology and a positive response from viewers, the NFL revealed plans Wednesday to expand the types of on-field graphics they employ. Though no decisions have been reached with regards to what statistical content will make its way down to the field, NFL sources indicate that the graphics will definitely be as brightly colored as possible.
Originally, on-field graphics were limited to the vaunted first-down line, technology that has since been recognized as falling somewhere between "blogs" and Google in techno-cultural significance. "We won a number of awards for the complex technology involved in creating the first-down marker," explained an intern working for SporTVision, the company that pioneered the now-ubiquitous on-field yellow line. "At least, the technicians did. I was washing one of their pet rabbits."
Bolstered by the thin yellow line's accolades, on-field graphics have expanded this season to cover an assortment of statistics, including red zone diagrams and kicking distances. The latter of the two, the boldly-colored bands detailing kicking success rates at a variety of distances, has proven to be especially popular with kickers.
Now, as the season winds down, NFL executives are trying to determine how they can best expand their catalogue of on-field graphics. "Now that we understand that breadth of the technology, we really want to see just how many bright colors we can get onto the field at any one time," commented one anonymous NFL GM.
While the NFL powers-that-be generally want to stick to only statistical on-field content, some dissenters have suggested that the football fields are a perfect green canvas for advertising. "I see no reason not to display large cans of Campbell's Chunky Soup in the backfield, out of play," said Wilma McNabb, mother of Donovan McNabb and the new face of hearty pre-game meals.
Inspired by the elder McNabb's bravado, advertising executives have been feverishly pitching the NFL on ideas for mid-game commercials. "Think of the possibilities," an excited advertising executive exclaimed during a recent ideas meeting, just before settling back with a notepad and waiting for thoughts on the possibilities.
Fictional insiders in the NFL front office reveal that commissioner Paul Tagliabue shares this optimistic perspective on the future of graphics-laden football: "Of course it's a good idea. The NFL is the best-run sports league in the world. We're simply incapable of making bad decisions."
"He's right," echoed MLB commissioner Bud Selig, who couldn't be reached for comment, "though our athletes, pound for pound, are significantly stronger than NFL players." He then continued, "Please, someone buy the Washington Nationals."
Considering how NFL fans have embraced the computer enhancements, it's logical that other sports dabble with the practice. But, predictably, other leagues are reluctant. Baseball, a sport based heavily around statistics, has indicated that it won't venture beyond its wildly successful virtual drug testing program, while hockey is quick to point out the abysmal failure of its virtual puck "'tail.' "We thought that TV viewers would appreciate being able to follow the puck," a man closely resembling NHL commissioner Gary Bettman was recently overheard saying to a TGI Friday's co-worker. "Then we discovered that we don't actually have any TV viewers, and couldn't afford the tail anymore." Then, clearly shaken up, the Bettman look-alike added, "God, I loved that tail."
But despite the setbacks experienced by other leagues, the NFL continues to move forward with their plans to cover the field in an assortment of vibrantly colored stats. NFL execs are already looking forward to an off-season festooned with meetings as they try and determine which digital enhancements will be appropriate for broadcasting. To this effect, they have established criteria for all proposed on-field graphics: they must be non-invasive, they must enrich and engage TV viewers, they must be a very, very bright color and, above all, they must make the NFL and the game of football more exciting to watch.
Right now, a virtual NFC is the leading candidate.