Meet the Company Behind the NFL’s Next Gen Stats

The fans remember the highlights but the franchises remember the technology, data, and inventions that powered their season. Host Tyler Kern sits down with the innovators, leaders and founders that are taking sports into the future.


It is almost fall. This means action-packed Monday and Th ursday nights and Sundays in the National Football League. When you’re sitting at home watching the game, it seems like just a game on the field, but there are a lot of technologies behind the scenes, and one of those is Zebra Sports’ Next Gen stat tracking.

On this episode of Salary Capped, Host Tyler Kern talked with John Pollard, Vice President of Zebra Sports for Zebra Technologies, the official player tracking technology for the NFL. They’ve served in that capacity for the last eight seasons.

“We have installed our RFID player tracking technology system in all NFL stadiums here in the U.S.,” Pollard said. “Our system’s also installed in the U.K. stadium and in Mexico City, as well.”

The system consists of a series of receiver boxes installed around the perimeter of the stadiums. The players’ shoulder pads contain RFID tags about the size of a nickel. Those tags emit signals to the receiver boxes. The information collected includes whether a player is on the field, where they’re at, and, of course, orientation to other players. Other metrics include: total distance traveled, top speed, acceleration, deceleration. This can encompass one play or a series of plays, or entire games. But that’s not it.

“Finally, we have an RFID tag that’s been installed in the NFL football,” Pollard said. “That took a lot of R&D work and cooperation from the leadership in the NFL, Wilson Sporting Goods, and ourselves to work on this tag.”

Listen to hear more about Zebra’s Next-Gen Statistics and all the information they collect in the ball tag.

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