Note to NFL players: if you’re thinking of sneaking out mid-game to grab a burger or whatever, don’t do it. You’re about to be tracked.
No, the system isn’t about babysitting, though you know that’s going to come into play at some point. Rather, this is a way for the NFL and teams to track the coordinates of every single player while on the field. The idea is to get a better sense of players’ conditioning, and it’s not a new program: the Bills, Falcons, Cowboys, Jaguars, Eagles and Rams already use the technology.
Players will be tracked by means of a device like the one by Catapult Sports. About the size of a pager (remember those, kids?), the GPS device will be placed inside the pads on a player’s back. Here, per the Buffalo Bills, is how the system works:
“The number one goal of this system right now is trying to help prevent injury as well as help us with the rehab process,” said [Buffalo] strength and conditioning coordinator Eric Ciano. “There are a lot of different things that goes into it, but the biggest thing is how can we monitor guys on the field to help us get the information? What do they really do at their position? How far does a receiver really run in practice? How fast does a receiver run in practice? Then create standards for each position group to be able to say, ‘Well this guy has done four days in a row in this (work rate) zone, this guy is at risk for injury.’ That’s the main reason we did it.”
The device uses a metric called “player load,” which tracks a range of practice variables. If a player hits a player load rating of 400, which would be very high, on consecutive days, the tech team will notify the coaching staff and keep the player to a less rigorous workout afterward.
“I think the most I topped off at for total distance in a practice was close to 2,000 yards,” the Bills’ C.J. Spiller said. “That’s a lot. You’re never out there thinking I’m covering this much. It’s a good program they’ve got. Top speed I think I hit around 18 or 19 (miles per hour). So it’s a good thing to have.”
How long before the GPS tracks a player into a nightclub/condo where he shouldn’t be? We’re going to set the over-under at 12 hours. Take the under.