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iPad Makes NFL Team Efficient –Cagle

June 2012
OK, time to add the National Football League’s Denver Broncos to our industry’s naughty list of businesses that have forsaken printing in favor of digital technologies. Hey, we’re perfectly fine with newbies such as smart phones and tablets. You won’t find a jealous or insecure bone in our offset presses. There’s plenty of pie to go around. But, to just absolutely kick printing to the curb...as Francis Soyer of “Stripes” fame is fond of saying, “You just made the list, buddy!”

In the grand scheme of things, the Broncos’ decision to 86 their traditional 500-page playbooks for the 2012 season in favor of iPads is more symbolic than impacting. The assumption is that the Broncos probably printed their playbooks in-house, or took it to a local copy shop. The 60,000 pages per week that were produced for 120 players, coaches and other team personnel are hardly worth lamenting; no one is closing a facility because their shop lost the Broncos account.

It is interesting to note the decision, which follows in the footsteps of the Baltimore Ravens and Tampa Bay Buccaneers franchises, also now paperless. According to the Denver Post, the team splurged for 120 iPads with Verizon Wireless 4G access—making it an $80K-$90K investment (imagine walking into your local Best Buy and asking for 120 iPads).

The beauty of digital playbooks, of course, is the ability to change plays at the drop of a hat. If Broncos Coach John Fox wants to add the Houston Veer to his arsenal, the update will be sent automatically to a playbook app on the iPad, which is lighter to lug home than heavy reams of paper. But since linemen, on average, weigh in excess of 300 pounds, it’s safe to say a heavy book bag won’t tax their bodies.

The NFL is still heavily militant about not allowing digital devices on the field during games, but they may now be used in the locker rooms until kickoff. Previously, electronic gizmos were removed from locker rooms 90 minutes prior to starting time.

The Broncos turned to PlayerLync, a Colorado-based firm, for its digital playbook. The app allows users to write notes and highlight plays using the tablet’s touchscreen, according to the newspaper. The playbooks are saved on remote servers for future use, if needed. In the past, paper playbooks were trashed the following week. And, the ability to push out new plays means no more late-night gatherings because the coach wants to add a hook-and-lateral play.
 

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