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NFL to use on-field tracking system to keep stats

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Football may never be watched the same way again with new ways to track a multitude of data.

Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

The National Football League is always trying new ideas to engage fans and has continued that trend with a new player tracking system to keep stats in real time, according to the NFL's official site.

The new system will bring all kinds of new numbers into the forefront on a weekly basis, including how much separation a wide receiver gets and what speed a player maxes out at. The system will be monitored with each player wearing two sensors beneath his shoulder pads, allowing for constant tracking.

The technology has been talked about in NFL circles for some time, with the NFL Players Association agreeing to it during the collective bargaining that led up to the 2011 agreement. Zebra Technologies is the company putting this into place, with 17 stadiums already equipped with the system. Per the story:

"Working with Zebra will give fans, teams, coaches and players a deeper look into the game they love," said Vishal Shah, NFL Vice President of Media Strategy. "Zebra's tracking technology will help teams to evolve training, scouting and evaluation through increased knowledge of player performance, as well as provide ways for our teams and partners to enhance the fan experience."

"Zebra's legacy of providing visibility solutions to a variety of industries gives us extensive knowledge in how to collect important real-time data that helps organizations make smarter decisions - we call this enterprise asset intelligence," said Anders Gustafsson, chief executive officer of Zebra Technologies. "It's exciting to partner with an innovator like the NFL, where we will provide real-time data and information to coaches, broadcasters and fans to enrich the game experience."

The stadiums that will feature this new technology are Atlanta, Baltimore, Carolina, Chicago, Cincinnati, Denver, Green Bay, Houston, Jacksonville, Miami, New England, Oakland, San Francisco, St. Louis, Washington, Detroit and New Orleans.

One restriction the NFL has levied on the information is against teams. Coaches are not allowed to use the data to gain a competitive advantage during games. How easy it will be to enforce this rule remains to be seen, but the league does not want teams following this data throughout a game and reacting.

All of the system's findings will be ready for television consumption, adding a new wrinkle for NFL fans.