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The NFL's New Leaf

Sept. 12, 2011
Sept. 12, 2011

Table of Contents
Sept. 12, 2011

LEADING OFF
Inside: THE WEEK IN SPORTS
TEN YEARS
  • The games we watched played a substantial role in fostering a return to normalcy after 9/11. In the decade since the attack, with two wars still raging, sports still provide comfort—but they have also inspired, united and reminded

COLLEGE FOOTBALL
BASEBALL
  • The Braves' three-headed relief monster—two parts lefty, one part Rookie of the Year front-runner, 100% filthy—has made life historically brutish and short for hitters. Now all the trio needs is a worthy nickname

TRACK AND FIELD
PRO BASKETBALL
  • No one loves the game more than the Mercury guard, a leading contender for WNBA MVP, but even she didn't understand what hoops meant to her until a string of harrowing events threatened to derail her career

TCU Coach GARY PATTERSON
  • Twenty-five years ago TCU coach Gary Patterson was a tumbleweed assistant clinging to a Division II job. No one expected he would rise to the top of his profession—not even the author, who lived with him then

POINT AFTER
Departments

The NFL's New Leaf

For tech-savvy teams, the digital playbook will be a game changer

It is an NFL ritual. Each year in training camp the Turk finds players who are about to be cut and tells them, "Coach wants to see you. Bring your iPad."

This is an article from the Sept. 12, 2011 issue

iPad? Welcome to the new NFL, where technological advances—and economic, environmental and security issues—are about to make thick, paper-filled playbooks as outdated as the Wing-T. Currently, the Buccaneers and the Ravens are the only teams digitizing playbooks, but as many as 16 clubs could be doing so by next year.

"People say that might be a $100,000 expense, but it costs more than that to copy and print playbooks over the course of a year," says Falcons G.M. Thomas Dimitroff, whose players already use iPads to watch game video.

With roughly 7.6 million sheets of paper a season expended on playbooks, the impact on the environment is clear as well. Another benefit is better control of access to information, as clubs will be able to remotely erase lost playbooks. Digital playbooks also will help young players, who've grown up with technology, in their game preparation. And that could help them stay a step ahead of the Turk.

PHOTOERICK W. RASCO (IPAD); AL TIELEMANS (PLAY ON IPAD)