NFL players are used to lifting weights and rigorous workouts, but they’re probably happy to replace bulky playbooks with iPads loaded with apps that detail all the Xs and Os of the paper version as well as video clips of opponents.
Almost half of the NFL teams use iPads with digital playbook apps, including the Super Bowl-bound Baltimore Ravens who are in New Orleans preparing for this Sunday's big game.
In fact, the Ravens were the first team to go digital with their playbooks, according to a story in the Wall Street Journal today. And when their coach, Chuck Pagano, left the Ravens to coach the Indianapolis Colts in 2012 he converted them to digital playbooks as well.
The iPads replaced 20-pound playbooks. “We like to have the heavy lifting back in the weight room, not carrying around playbooks,” Ryan Fannin, director of football information systems for the Colts, told the WSJ.
Raven's star Ray Lewis was grilled this week on charges he once used a banned performance-enhancing-drug to recover from an injury. Lewis denied the charge and said it was an old, false accusation the media should stop asking him about. "I only want my face to be stuck in the iPad," Lewis said.
The Journal was unable to confirm whether the Raven’s opponent, the San Francisco 49ers, also use iPads or digital playbooks. It would be ironic, given the team’s proximity to Silicon Valley, if they don’t. The team has said it aims to make its new stadium, set to open in 2014, the most tech friendly of any to date.
"With new technology hitting the market frequently (iPads, smartphones), we want our tech infrastructure to be adaptable and our hardware to be scalable," a team official told ESPN last year.
The three major companies that make iPad apps for the NFL are Global Apptitude LLC, the maker of GamePlan, PlayerLync LLC and DragonFly Athletics LLC. “The majority of the teams that made the playoffs use this technology,” Bob Paulsen, co-founder and CEO of PlayerLync, told the WSJ.
NFL teams at a competitive disadvantage?
Phil Taylor, Senior Writer for Sports Illustrated, said he was surprised to hear so many NFL teams haven’t made the transition to putting their playbooks on tablets.
“It’s really hard to believe, maybe that’s why those teams aren’t in the playoffs,” Taylor told TabTimes.
“It would seem to be a great competitive advantage to be able to use iPads. I can remember teams having to distribute new pages every time there was a change to the playbook. Now they can easily add, substract and modify plays very quickly and show all those video clips.”