On Sunday, an item appeared in this space explaining security concerns from the coaching community regarding the seemingly inevitable use of in-game video on the Microsoft Surface tablets that now show up on the sidelines of every NFL game. Later in the day, an email appeared in the PFT inbox from the league office with information aimed at addressing those concerns.
“It is the same video that has fed coaches still photos for years,” NFL spokesman Brian McCarthy said. “Since the implementation of tablets, those same standard end zone and sideline team camera positions have fed video that is used to create the still images. The preseason video tests, and any implementation of video full time, would only allow video to be used that is shot from those standard team shooting locations and fed directly into the existing still photo tablet infrastructure. Use of any video outside of the approved infrastructure and tablets would still be prohibited.”
So, basically, teams would be getting the same game film during the game that they would be getting after the game.
“Each team has a member of their staff shooting from each location,” McCarthy said. “Sideline shooting location has someone from team A shooting with someone from team B. Same for the end zone.”
Even before the arrival of tablets, teams were obtaining still frames from the cameras used to shoot game film and allowing photos taken by those cameras to be printed in the coaching booth and at field level for inspection during games. Those same cameras would be generating the game film that would be studied on tablets during games.
That won’t address all concerns regarding the use of game film during a given game, but it should help coaches who are generally skittish about the issue feel a little bit better (or a little less worse) about the near-certain arrival of in-game sideline tablet video.