When it comes to embracing technology, the NFL at times behaves like grandparents with a microwave that has been flashing “12:00” repeatedly, for years.
In one respect, that’s finally changing. This year, the coach-to-player communications system is going digital.
The Associated Press has compiled a wide variety of accounts regarding the strange things that happened with the analog system, including frequencies that overlapped with airlines, police radios, and even rehearsals for a Madonna concert. It’s unclear whether the new system, which was tested last year in the preseason and during the Pro Bowl, will better avoid the challenges of overlapping frequencies, but it should provide a much clearer connection.
“There wasn’t any of the static in there that you got sometimes,” Giants linebacker Chase Blackburn said after using the technology in the preseason opener. “With the other system, the coach had to hold down a button for a second or so, and some coaches would start talking just when he held the button down and you would miss half of what he said.”
The old system also resulted in periodic glitches, which when happening to road teams often resulted in whispers of foul play. Last year, problems when playing on the road prompted 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh to ask the league off for an explanation.
“We never got the answer, but we had problems in a couple particular road games where it would shut off right in the middle of a play call,” Harbaugh said. “Happened multiple times in one particular game. I couldn’t tell you what the problem was because I was never given a response to the question.”
Maybe they pushed the button down to soon.