Men of the Line———

In honor of Super Bowl LV and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ win over the Kansas City Chiefs (and former New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady’s 7th Super Bowl ring as the QB for the Bucs), I thought it would make for an interesting post about how that magic 1st and 10 yellow line is created on our TV screens every February at “The Big Game!”

And, during every game in the NFL among other sports broadcasts.

The names of: James R. Gloudemans, Richard H. Cavallaro, Jerry N. Gepner, Stanley K. Honey, Walter Hsiao, Terance J. O’Brien, and Marvin S. White are the Men Behind the Yellow Line. That is, the yellow First Down Line you see on NFL broadcasts!

What started out as project for Fox Sports to aid viewers watching NHL games over the airwaves blossomed into a new company called Sportvision, Inc. And in 1998 they debuted the First and 10 Line on ESPN.

Using a combination of field cameras, 3D models of the field, powerful computers and algorithms, and the field itself as a kind of green screen, they are able to draw the line in virtual real‐time as the players move up and down the field; as well as, simultaneously remove parts of the line to make it appear that it is literally underneath the players.

It’s truly digital magic!

It was a such a huge success that Sportvision won an Emmy for its technology.

“Winning our 10th Emmy Award is a great honor, and truly validates the impact our technology has had in the growth and popularity of a wide spectrum of sports. We are thrilled to share this Emmy with the America’s Cup Event Authority, who has been a wonderful and inspired partner throughout this effort.”

Mike Jakob, President, Sportvision, Inc., 2012

They then went on to adapt this professional sports real‐time adaptive broadcast technology to the MLB, NASCAR, sailing, and the Olympics.

It was such a huge success that in 2001 Fox Sports attempted to eliminate the yellow line as a cost cutting measure. A month later, after a huge fan backlash, Fox brought the line back (thanks to the sponsorship of Intel Corp.), and it has remained there ever since.

There was even a website called!

Necessity is the mother of invention, and we’re fortunate in these trying economic times we could find a sponsor [Intel Corp.] to help return the computer-generated first-and-10 line to NFL on Fox coverage.

David Hill, Chairman of Fox Sports Television Group, 2001

Whether or not you find the yellow line (or the other digital aides during game broadcasts) annoying or helpful, one thing is for sure: these seven Progressive Pioneers changed the way Americans watch Football on television forever—that’s a Digital Tech Trend on the gridiron of technology if ever I “saw” one!

Learn more about the Yellow Line in the video below!