The Sporting Goods | The future of the NFL

The year is 2033, the final seconds of Super Bowl LXVII. Despite home-field advantage, Chicago is down five points and buried deep in its own territory with 20 seconds remaining in the fourth quarter.

From the ten-yard line, Bears’ quarterback Robbie Gould IV takes the snap and drops back, almost to the goal line. While the Jaguars’ two pass rushers wait two seconds for the green light to appear on the clock above the goalposts, Gould throws a bomb to one of his seven receivers, who has gotten open down the right sideline. He makes a clean catch at the 50, and while two mid-sidebackers got a hand on him, neither got both hands. The WR continues to flash downfield toward a touchdown, but the deep-left-safety is faster, and catches him with both hands on the back inside the one-yard line. The microchips in the defender’s gloves and the receiver’s uniform signal the tackle has been made to end the play.

The crowd stands. This is it. One play, all or nothing. The Jaguars line up all 11 defenders to stop the pass, in part because almost no one ever runs the football anymore. A center and two guards protect RGIV. Coach Lovie Smith sends in a play. Before the snap, the receivers weave an intricate pattern of fakes and reverses. Gould feigns a quick out and hands the ball to his lead receiver, who, unaccustomed to such a trick play, bobbles it slightly. The receiver regains control of the ball just as he leaps over the confused defenders. As soon as the ball’s microchip breaks the plane of the goal, mere milliseconds before two defenders get two hands on the runner, sirens signal the touchdown. Game over. The final score: Chicago 85, London 80.

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Laura Baginski, Editor (@TimeOutChicago)