Microsoft’s NFL deal is great news for pro football teams (unless they’re the Jets)

Microsoft NFL Deal: Surface on the Sidelines

Last week it was announced that the National Football League will finally dip it’s toe in the waters of the 21st Century, and in a partnership with Microsoft, allow Surface tablets on the sidelines during games, probably by 2014. The partnership also includes plans to use the Microsoft Surface tablet and Xbox for an enhanced, interactive viewing experience for fans. As if there’s something we’re missing? 

But tablets on the sidelines! Hear that Mark Sanchez? No longer will you have to look at a three-ring binder filled with snapshots of previous plays in order to figure out why you threw it directly to the middle linebacker instead of the receiver wide open down the sideline. You’ll now see what the viewing audience sees – that you suck!

Hear that Mark Sanchez? You’ll now see what the viewing audience sees – that you suck!

But this isn’t about Mark Sanchez. Actually, if the Jets are smart – I can’t even get the sentence out without laughing – but if the Jets were run by different people, smart people, they’d let Geno Smith start and hand Mark Sanchez a clipboard tablet with Angry Birds loaded on it and let him have fun. But that’s beside the point. This is about the country’s most popular, most powerful sports league (by far) taking another technological step.

It’s hard to imagine what took the NFL so long to embrace a technology that many watching on couches have likely been using as a viewing companion, checking their fantasy teams or scouring Twitter for real time info on injuries, analysis, etc. The league was probably concerned that some of their more unscrupulous coaches would exploit it for a competitive advantage. Yes, we’re looking at you, Bill

But how did they imagine that would happen? Use it to watch the television feed of the game? As if hearing the commentary of such geniuses like Herm Edwards could be any help. By the way, know where he used to coach? That’s right. J-E-T-S. JETS JETS JETS!

I think this is an idea that’s long overdue. From headsets on the coaches to earpieces in the quarterbacks’ helmets, the NFL has moved slowly toward technology, trying to strike the right balance between embracing innovation and not messing with a game that is already wildly popular. Of the highest-rated TV programs of 2012, eight of the top ten belonged to the NFL. No wonder they gave this guy a show.

But where’s the impetus for change? Well, when Microsoft ponies up $400 million, you’ve got your answer. The times they are a-changin’!!

While this is the first time the league will allow tablets on the sidelines, many teams, both in the NFL and in college, have replaced the heavy paper playbooks with iPads that can be updated instantly, allow for players to watch video from wherever and whenever, and allow coaches to see which players have watched tape and which ones have not.

Tom CoughlinI have to admit, as a Giants fan, I am concerned about giving a computing device to head coach, Tom Coughlin who, as a 66 years-old grandfather, I’m guessing is more comfortable with an abacus than an app. I mean, my grandfather can barely work his answering machine. That’s right, I said “answering machine.”

I envision the initial advantages that teams embracing this technology will have over those who fail to (or are just stupid, like the Jets) will most likely be in clock management at the end of halves and regarding decisions on 2-point conversions. But who knows? Maybe this will spark real innovation on the field and we’ll see coaches utilizing analytics in real-time, going for it on fourth down in unexpected scenarios, utilizing on-the-fly formations and trick plays that we’ve never seen.

But more than anything, I look forward to the first post-game press conference where the coach blames a play call that didn’t work on his computer. That will go over swimmingly in the non-hyperbolic world of sports radio.

My hope is that, years from now, we’re talking about teams’ IT departments the way we discuss their special teams. The embracing of technological innovation by the jockiest of jock leagues is something that should have every high school math-leaguer stepping out of the locker they just got stuffed in and saying, “Phew.” The future is bright indeed. Unless you’re a fan of … well, you know.


Samsung’s wide range of Galaxy products means there’s something for everyone

Samsung launched a host of new products on February 20, with prices ranging from just $35, all the way up to nearly $2,000. This was not by chance, and the company believes it has something for everyone in 2019.
Movies & TV

Why First Man’s Oscar-nominated visual effects are a giant leap for filmmaking

Paul Lambert, the award-winning visual effects supervisor on First Man, reveals the innovative techniques that blended old footage with modern movie magic to make the Apollo 11 mission to the moon resonate with audiences 50 years later and…

The Powerbeats3 wireless earphones are $110 off for Presidents’ Day

There area a lot of benefits of having wireless headphones, including Bluetooth capability and water resistance, to name just two. Beats makes some of the best, and its $200 Powerbeats3 wireless earphones are more than half off right now on…

What’s the difference between Lightroom CC and Lightroom Classic?

Lightroom CC has evolved into a capable photo editor, but is it enough to supplant Lightroom Classic? We took each program for a test drive to compare the two versions and see which is faster, more powerful, and better organized.

Under Armour drops prices on Gore-Tex Jackets, Pants, and backpacks

The UA Outlet Exclusive sale is going on right now through Monday, February 18. During this time, you can get up to 40 percent off a huge range of outlet items, including Gore-Tex rain gear.
Emerging Tech

Global Good wants to rid the world of deadly diseases with lasers and A.I.

Global Good, a collaboration between Intellectual Ventures and Bill Gates, aims to eradicate diseases that kill children in developing nations. It tackles difficult problems with high-tech prototypes.
Emerging Tech

Awesome Tech You Can’t Buy Yet: Grow veggies indoors and shower more efficiently

Check out our roundup of the best new crowdfunding projects and product announcements that hit the web this week. You may not be able to buy this stuff yet, but it sure is fun to gawk!

Tom Brady uses these high-tech sheets for muscle pain, and they’re on sale now

Under Armour Recovery Sheets feature unique technologies that can speed your body’s post-workout healing process, and they’re on sale right now at discounts of up to $87. Read on to find out how these innovative sheets work (and how you…

Amazon slashes prices on Fitbit Versa smartwatches for Presidents’ Day

Amazon is offering a solid $30 discount on this great fitness tracking smartwatch right now. So if you're looking for a wearable that can help you track steps, sleep, and activity, now is a great time to pick one up for less.
Emerging Tech

No faking! Doctors can now objectively measure how much pain you’re in

Researchers at Indiana University School of Medicine have discovered the blood biomarkers that can objectively reveal just how much pain a patient is in. Here's why that's so important.

This Bowflex secret sale can save you over $1K on high-tech fitness equipment

With advances in technology, taking control of your fitness has become easier than ever, and with this huge discount on the Bowflex Max Trainer M7, it's affordable, too. Save more than $1,000 on a new fitness machine with this promo code.
Emerging Tech

FDA warns about the dangers of anti-aging blood transfusions

It turns out injecting old people with blood from healthy youngsters may not be the answer to health rejuvenation. That’s according to the FDA, which says such claims are dangerous junk science.
Health & Fitness

Immune cell discovery takes us one step closer to a universal flu vaccine

A group of international researchers have made a discovery which could take us one step closer to the universal, one-shot flu vaccine that people around the world have been dreaming of.

Did Pittsburgh's Antonio Brown fall victim to the Madden Curse?

Join us as we take a tour through the long-running history of the Madden Curse -- and Tom Brady's recent accolades. We all know John Madden is a longtime NFL talent, but is he also an agent of dark forces?