Today's Tidbit... Football’s First Chains
The first mention of football's "chains" for tracking the spot of the first down and the yard to gain came in a story about the innovation's use by Brooklyn's Crescent Athletic Club in 1894. Two weeks later, George Pratt, a former Amherst player and captain of the Crescent team, served as the linesman for the Harvard-Yale game. Pratt had an assistant who handled the stick at the other end of the five-yard-long ribbon. The chain connecting the poles came later.
The new measuring tool entered the rule book in 1898, along with the suggestion that the linesman should have two assistants handle the chains. Early on, the norm was for each team to provide one of the linesman's assistants, and it was not uncommon for the assistants to be substitute players.
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