Thursday, August 25, 2011

Tampa Bay Buccaneers buy each player an iPad to hold playbook, videos


TAMPA — Every year on every NFL team, the Turk nervously ambles next to players in the locker room, dorm room or cafeteria, his role a designated dream killer whose only job is to signal the death knell to somebody's career.
He delivers two messages: The coach wants to see you, and bring your playbook.
Well, never again in Tampa Bay.
Instead, he'll ask them to bring their iPad.
That's because rather than producing thick periodicals the size of the Yellow Pages, the Bucs have downloaded their playbooks on iPad 2s and distributed them to each of their 90 players.
What's more, players can use the tablet computer to reference video files of games, and practice and situational videos of any NFL team.
"It's crazy how much technology has changed the game," second-year safety Cody Grimm said. "Back in the day, I think probably the whole team had to sit down with a projector and a reel, and watch the film together. They'd have the whole offense in the same meeting room. Now we all have our own iPad. Stuff that we used to come in here to see, we can sit on our couch at home and have access to it 24-7. It's awesome.
"It's convenient. It's fast. I was snacking out on the couch and watching some film, and realized I was, like, two quarters through (a) game already."
The idea to download playbooks on an iPad was hatched by coach Raheem Morris, who used one to watch video of draft prospects with general manager Mark Dominik and player personnel director Dennis Hickey.
And because of the lockout, Morris watched a lot of video.
"We give these playbooks out, and by the end of training camp, we collect them so nobody sells them on the Internet," Morris said. "They become game books. If you need a reference to go back, you can pull up a blitz from camp and look at it.
"Then it got to the point where we said, 'Hey, let's put some of the video on there … from the season. How about practice? How would (Josh) Freeman like to go home and watch practice again? How would "Free" like to sit there and watch third down from Detroit and Miami so when he comes to work the next morning, he's seeing the tape again and putting it all together?' "
The people responsible for turning Morris' vision into reality were team director of football technology Chris Wells and video director Dave Levy.
It used to be if players wanted to watch film at home, they would have to get Levy's crew to make a copy of a DVD.
"You'd have to use your general remote to fast-forward or rewind," Morris said. "With this iPad, I can just flick through, and if that play doesn't apply to me, I just touch it and get out of there and go here, and there's third down. Get out of there, and let's go to the red zone. Okay, there's the nickel. It's a different deal now."
It's also a perfect study enticement for the youngest roster in the NFL, a group of 20-somethings who are gadget-giddy and technologically savvy to begin with.
"That's big ups to our organization thinking like that because it is the biggest thing right now and we have a young crowd," fourth-year linebacker Geno Hayes said. "It's pretty big to have that at your disposal."
Some veteran players, such as running back Earnest Graham (in his eighth season) and center Jeff Faine (in his ninth), still prefer to jot down notes on a pad of paper.
"But I think guys are really more likely to go home and take a look at their plays (with the iPad)," Graham said. "It's the way guys these days are about anyway. Now all of a sudden you've got to take your playbook home.
"It's not that guys don't want to look at plays, but it's the convenience. … Guys are accustomed to already doing things on their iPads anyway."
Morris said it took all of two minutes for Bucs co-chairman Bryan Glazer to approve the purchase of 90 iPad 2s at a cost of between $500 and $600 each. Like his players, Morris, 34, watches tape while listening to his personalized music soundtrack.
"I got my Jay-Z and Drake on my iPad, and Mason Foster playing to it," he said.
What happens if a player loses his team-issued iPad? Well, it's better than leaving a playbook in a hotel room in Foxboro, Mass.
"You've got a way to wipe (everything) off with the push of a button," Morris said.


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