Concerns over microphones on linemen are overblown

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We interrupt this coverage of an interesting Sunday of football to predict that, moving forward, we’ll hear more and more about this issue of microphones being placed on offensive linemen.

It’s an issue that has bubbled to the surface in the wake of allegations by the Cowboys that the Redskins were simulating the snap count last Monday night.  Earlier today, Chris Mortensen of ESPN reported that Saints center Olin Kreutz ripped the microphone out of his pads on opening night, prompting quarterback Drew Brees to call the union for confirmation that, indeed, the new CBA permits this device for enhancing the TV broadcast of games.

As of Week Four, the NFL mandated the use of microphones for the starting center and reserve center or both starting guards in every game.

Coaches and General Managers are complaining to folks in the media, who as part of the doing of their jobs are relaying the information to their audiences.  But the complaints possibly are overblown.

As to the concern that the audio can be used to capture line calls and audibles and snap counts, the reality is that, for years, that sound was captured by the microphone applied to the hat of the umpire.  Indeed, the new procedure was necessitated by the fact that the umpire has moved from the area behind the defensive line to an area well behind the offensive line.  And the quality of the audio from the umpire’s hat was better, since the microphones now attached to the center or the guards are embedded in the pads.

The real problem seems to be paranoia.  Not over what previously was heard by the umpires, but over what could be captured by the microphone on the sidelines or in the locker room — and how it could be used if it falls into the wrong hands.  Apparently, no amount of assurances or explanations from the league, the networks, or NFL Films will cure this, and it’s likely that the coaches and G.M.’s will be pushing hard to scuttle this procedure completely.

Thus, look forward to more stories about this.  When reading each one, however, keep in mind that obsessive-compulsive coaches may be making too much of the situation.