NFL teams including the Denver Broncos, the Baltimore Ravens, and Tampa Bay Buccaneers are in the process of replacing the traditional playbook with the Apple iPad. So what is making the iPad an ideal replacement for the traditional playbook?
As in any business, budgeting strategy regularly determines which budgetary items can be cut out in order to keep the bottom line showing a profit. On this note, NFL teams have calculated and determined that they can save budget dollars on their players’ weekly playbooks. It was amazing to learn that each of these playbooks was approximately 500 pages and that one had to be distributed to all team players and staff. For the Denver Broncos, that meant that they had to print a total of 120 playbooks. In addition to the cost of publication, one must also consider the time (overtime) required by staff to prepare and distribute the playbooks. By using the Apple iPads to replace these printed playbooks, one could conclude that the money that would be saved would go a long way toward paying for the replacement Apple iPads.
Because playbooks can be stolen or lost, ending up in the hands of the opposition, an added benefit of using the iPad is the security it would afford. Unlike the playbook, which is open for all to see, an Apple iPad can be password protected so that, even if it did fall into the wrong hands, it would take some time to figure out how to get it open. I know that this system is not foolproof, but it beats being able to access information where the only requirement is one’s ability to be able to read the English language.
There are also safeguards that are built into the Apple iPad via the Verizon network. One of these built-in safeguards is the ability to remotely wipe all information from the system if you discover that one of the iPads has been compromised, thus protecting your playbook if it is lost or stolen. Additionally, the Verizon network can also be used to update, via Verizon’s LTE network, the iPads of all the coaches and players.
However, that is not to say that everything is perfect in football’s electronic heaven. Apparently, despite the rapid advance of technology, the National Football League has not stayed current with these trends and still forbids the use of electronic devices during game play. In fact, players and coaches are not allowed to use any electronic device 90 minutes prior to the start of a game, extending to even referee reviews of previous plays. Amazingly, these reviews are still being done with black and white photographic images, which are printed out for the players and coaches to review. Fortunately, there are few visionary owners and league officials out there that provide hope that the NFL may, one day, approve these pictures to be viewed on the sidelines with an Apple iPad.
One of these teams, the Denver Broncos, has enlisted the aid of a software company called PlayerLync. PlayerLync has a developed an application that allows both the coaches and the players to write notes and highlight certain plays via the touchscreen. This information is then saved, via remote servers that are cleaned a minimum of once a week. An advantage of this software is that it runs in the background of the Apple iPad and allows a coach to push out player updates as needed. These updates are easy to accomplish since they are programmed to be touchscreen compatible. Then, if the coach or player so desires, they can save used playbooks on remote servers so that they can access notes from previous games. This isn’t possible under the current system since paper playbooks are trashed each week.
PlayerLync also allows players to receive updated videos of game play on their Apple iPads. These videos help the players to see how other teams performed in specific situations and can provide valuable information. However, one of the biggest advantages of using PlayerLync is that it allows last minute changes to be made instantly and distributed to all coaches and players in real time updates. Currently, team meetings must be called and paper instructions distributed to all coaches and players. This has been a long-time problem for players since other commitments could make it impossible for them to attend such on-the-spot meetings. That being a fact, the problem could easily be solved with this new system; since everyone would be able to access the information, no matter where they were.
But can this new technology help a professional football team make it to the playoffs? We won’t have the answer to that until we see how these three professional NFL teams that are using this technology fare in actual game play. However, if the Broncos seem to make unbelievable improvements, it may not be due only to the change in playbook access; the team has also equipped itself with a seasoned quarterback from the Colts, which could make a huge difference. So at the end of the next football season, if the Broncos make the playoffs, people may find themselves asking if it was the technology or the quarterback that made the difference.
Source and table: Denver Post
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