This year's Hall of Fame Game will mark a historic first, as both the Buffalo Bills and New York Giants will utilize tablets on the sidelines throughout the preseason matchup Sunday night.
The Associated Press reports, via USA Today, that the two teams will be using Microsoft tablets to try to gain an edge. One option that will not be available to the players and coaches is video, which has always been the case on the sidelines.
For the Win and The Verge shared images of the tablets:
ESPN's Darren Rovell added a picture of the full carrying case that the tablets will sit in when they aren't being used:
Tablets will be used on NFL sidelines for first time tonight thru Microsoft deal pic.twitter.com/NaC5FXvx5u— darren rovell (@darrenrovell) August 3, 2014
Tennessee Titans head coach Ken Whisenhunt spoke about not having video on the tablets, per the AP report:
"The purity of the game has always been not having video," Whisenhunt said. "So when you're looking at pictures you have to sometimes guess, or a lot of times the pictures aren't what really exactly happened. That part of it is still coaching, and I kind of like that."
NFL spokesman Brian McCarthy said the league might look to add video in the future, via the AP report.
Will tablets help on the sidelines?
However, things didn't go as smoothly in game, according to Mike Wilkening of Pro Football Talk:
However, Bills coach Doug Marrone was without use of a tablet in the first half of Sunday’s Hall of Fame Game.
After the Bills’ 17-13 loss to the Giants, Marrone indicated his tablet wasn’t operating in the first two quarters.
“I was told mine was going to work, and mine didn’t work,” Marrone said after the game, according to audio from WGR 550 AM in Buffalo. “They said they would get it right, and it was miscommunication. But I was excited. I did use it in the second half, and I like it a lot,” Marrone said.
For fans hoping that this will make for a more interactive approach on the sidelines, players and coaches won't have access to Twitter or other social media on the tablets.
While flipping through pictures has been the go-to approach for years, doing so on a tablet should make the process quicker. Players and coaches will also be able to zoom in and write on the gadget. The tablets will operate on a secure wireless network in NFL stadiums.
As for some old-school coaches, the paper system will remain in place as a backup. If the tablets are experiencing issues, resorting back to the old way is an option for every team.
Nick Mediati of PC World weighed in on the move to tablets:
It isn’t entirely clear why the two sides went with the Surface Pro 2, but it likely has to do with the fact that these tablets have undergone some special modifications to better withstand snow, water, and extreme temperatures.
The new tablets reportedly offer photos slightly quicker than the old approach, making the future easier for both sides of the ball. Offenses and defenses will be able to quickly find ways to improve when on the sidelines.
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