More on the Colts’ “hearing aids” from the late 1990s

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The claim from former Colts tackle Tarik Glenn used some sort of “hearing aid” in the late 1990s to drown out crowd noise on the road while also amplifying the signals from quarterback Peyton Manning raises plenty of questions — especially if the “hearing aids” were in any way electronic and, in turn, against the rules.

A reader has pointed out a story from four years ago regarding a low-tech device that teams have used in the past to deal with noise. The story came, via USA Today, from a Monday night game between the Saints and Seahawks.

During the game, ESPN’s Lisa Salters explained that Saints coach Sean Payton, inspired by something the Vikings had done during the 2009 NFC title game in New Orleans, ordered custom-made ear plugs that somehow drown out the crowd noise while also allowing players to hear the quarterback.

If not electronic in any way, it’s not a problem. And if that’s the “hearing aid” Glenn was referring to, the Colts didn’t break the rules.

Of course, it’s unclear why Glenn would call an earplug a “hearing aid,” which suggests something more than a hunk of rubber or plastic crammed into the ear canal.

24 responses to “More on the Colts’ “hearing aids” from the late 1990s

  1. This story doesn’t make much sense to me. If the problem is a lot of crowd noise on the road, how would a device that amplifies noise help out in that situation???

  2. I had forgotten about that. That would have been the famous “I’m Jimmy!” game…they lost anyway.

  3. “Of course, it’s unclear why Glenn would call an earplug a “hearing aid,”…”

    Well – it does aide your hearing for the quarterback…sounds like the plug is also an aide to me.

  4. Far more likely the Colts used hearing plugs to listen to the crowd and ignore Peyton.

  5. “specially if the “hearing aids” were in any way electronic”

    mine work on batteries … and I need them to hear … does this exclude me from playing???

  6. If you ride motorcycles and have speakers in your helmet you know that ear plugs can block out wind noise and allow in the music much much clearer.

    This is how the crowd noise could be filtered out but the QB heard better/clearer.

    I’m suspicious of the back tracking on terms though. A hearing aid implies electronics/amplification.

  7. If the media needs clarification isn’t up to them to ask instead of making up stuff? Have to love the silly season.

  8. Audiologist here. The technology for noise cancellation was practically non existent in the 90s linear based hearing aids. The could have programmed a hearing aid with microphones that only amplified sounds in front of them theoredically. Still, highly doubtful it could’ve worked well though in that type of noise environment. No hearing aid can specifically amplify speech and only speech even today. I’d bet he had custom earplugs with some specific filter or dB reduction aka a hunk of plastic.

  9. “hunks of plastic” can reduce or filter out certain frequencies, which would then seen to amplify the others.

    Perhaps Peyton called signals like Mickey Mouse which would significantly “aid” the situation.

    That isn’t cheating but Peyton getting HGH delivered to his wife’s house is. Assuming he used it of course and for that answer you can ask his ginormous forehead.

  10. As I pointed out earlier in the week the niners tried some of these shaped plastic earplug things in the 90s. I can remember John Madden talking about them and specifically mentioning how the niners thought it might help LT Steve Wallace who was deaf in his left ear.

    So not illegal, not cheating (however much trolly Pats fans are desperate to find other teams breaking the rules so their team has company).

  11. Equipment violation- 4 games, draft pick and $1 million. Pats fans will never forget we will always hate you and your teams.

  12. Non story from the start. Every ex lineman that has been asked about this has sad they all used them or tried them. It’s not an electronic devise.
    Sometimes The description of something is exactly what it is. A hearing aid…it aids in hearing.

  13. When I am at work (which often involves mixing liquids in mixing tanks with loud mixing motors), if I work without any hearing protection it is rather loud to begin with, and I would never be able to listen to anyone speak on the radio even if it were near me (and set to loud). However, I wear ear protection headphones with are not in any way electronic, and it both deadens the sound of the mixing motors AND still allows me to make out the spoken word on the radio.

    So yes, that is a “hearing aid”, and I assumed when I first heard this story that Glenn was talking about some sort of ear plug, so this shouldn’t be surprising at all.

  14. I like the drama of “If not electronic in any way, it’s not a problem” as if a hearing aid is precluded.

    A electronic hearing aid is not a communication device; there is no radio — it is simply an amplifier.

  15. Hue Mellin back up QB for the Broncos 94-95 said the lineman had little speakers in their helmets

    From the story

    Millen dropped that he played for a coach with two Super Bowl wins who put together a huge scheme to install speakers inside the helmets of the offensive linemen so they could be given instructions remotely. He said they had it in place and working. He also made reference to a coach who had offensive linemen who were caught with a substance on their jerseys and that the coach just shrugged when they were caught.

  16. Had the Colts stayed in Balmore (Baltimore ) then the
    legacy would remain clean and untarnished .However
    it appears that in the move to Indy morality is only applied to the other guys no thyself .It is easy to call someone else a cheat than to self exam one’s own faults .Jealousy is not an excuse to belittle an opponent just because you are losing by 25 plus points. The last Super Bowl proved the best strive harder when facing defeat and just maybe the comeback will be completed in victory .There is a reason why the early Rocky movies were so moving and inspiring .It certainly wasn’t Stallone’s acting skills.As an old fart just listening to Jerry West some 40 years latter talk about the Celts is enough to put a smile on my face -so bitter ,so so bitter.

  17. I’m sure the Patriot fans are praying it was electronic and therefore illegal. They hate being the only team in the NFL to be caught cheating while they keep insisting, “everybody does it”

  18. “So not illegal, not cheating (however much trolly Pats fans are desperate to find other teams breaking the rules so their team has company).”

    If you knew anything about the history of the league you would know there are plenty of teams who have done far worse than the Pats.

    Especially since a lot of what you whiners call the Pats “cheating” are things entirely within the rules. Belichick just knows the book better than any other person on the planet and is the best at using every obscure thing he knows.

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