The NFL is expanding it’s use (and reliance) on Microsoft Surface tablets this season. The new procedure began with this year’s Hall of Fame game between Dallas and Arizona. The technology reportedly worked “like a charm”, with a coach’s challenge settled in quick order by the officiating staff in New York.
Unlike in the past, the referee no longer will be charged with making that final decision; The Referee crew, located at the league headquarters will do so in consultation with the “on the field” referee.
Already, the Surface tablets were being used by coaches and players on the sidelines to download photos of the action. Troy Vincent, who oversees football operations for the league, says the NFL is moving carefully on the use of video by coaches, rather than just photos, during the regular season.
In using the Surface tablets for officiating reviews, two systems will be set up, one at each end of the field, as opposed to the single under-the-hood procedure of the past.
This will be the most visual use of the tablet, but it’s hardly the only one. All 32 teams have been utilizing it for virtually every task.
Also for the first time this season, medical personnel on NFL sidelines will have access to Surface devices which will feature the NFL’s “Game Management” system. That app displays key moments in every game and allows for medical data collection and sharing across games.