The NFL has taken their sweet ol' time to embrace technology—coaches still use black-and-white photo printouts to show plays, binder thick playbooks are still the norm and helmets still had analog radio headsets for communication. Well, at least one of those ancient technologies is getting better.
The NFL is finally replacing the old analog communication system with a digital network built by Gubser & Schnakenberg LLC in every stadium. It's going to be a lot better. Hell, anything would be better than the crappy analog system of yore. San Francisco 49ers Greg Roman described the faults of the analog system to the AP, saying "there was one time when I was doing it and it happened to be on the same frequency as an airline in a certain city. And it was a critical situation in the game and all you hear is Southwest pilots talking.'' Quarterback David Carr had it just as bad:
"I've had conversations that weren't even in the stadium in my headset."
The old system was hilariously outdated: there was static, coaches had to hold down a button for a second and then wait another second to talk and as mentioned before, random voices could jump into the frequency. The new method will be a much needed improvement:
Each team is only allowed one live helmet, designated by a small green dot on the back, on the field at a time. Once the 40-second play clock begins, coaches have 25 seconds to make a call and pass on information. The microphones for all the radio transmitters shut off automatically at the 15-second mark. A league official also is on site to monitor.
The NFL has said there are some 268 million different military-grade encryption codes protecting the frequencies. And while security is strict, teams also do their due diligence to protect transmissions.
Welcome to technology. [SI]