Sur­face tablets for of­fi­ci­at­ing re­views takes hold in NFL

Cape Breton Post - - Sports - BY BARRY WILNER

Al­berto Riveron sounds gen­uinely ex­cited about the NFL’s de­ci­sion to use Mi­crosoft Sur­face tablets for referees to watch re­play.

That pro­ce­dure be­gan in earnest with last week’s Hall of Fame game be­tween Dal­las and Ari­zona. The tech­nol­ogy worked like a charm, with the one coach’s chal­lenge set­tled in quick order by ref­eree Jerome Boger and the of­fi­ci­at­ing staff in New York.

“It def­i­nitely of­fers an op­por­tu­nity af­ter the ref­eree sig­nals there is a re­view to ex­pe­dite the process of get­ting to the video,” Riveron says. “We’re not hur­ry­ing the process of re­view­ing the videos or of the de­ci­sions.”

Un­like in the past, the ref­eree no longer will be charged with mak­ing that fi­nal de­ci­sion; Riveron and his crew at league head­quar­ters will do so in con­sul­ta­tion with the ref.

“The only thing that’s changed about the process, that in­stead of the fi­nal de­ci­sion be­ing with the ref­eree on the field, it’s now with New York,” he said. “The con­sul­ta­tion process, the way we look at the film, the plays we show him, the an­gles, that hasn’t changed.

“Mi­crosoft has been very sen­si­tive to our needs to get the job done,” Riveron adds. “They worked hard on weather con­di­tions and glare and the like. They have worked hard to make this process work.”

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.

“Some have em­braced it, some op­pose it,” he says, adding with a laugh, “It’s part of my great­est chal­lenge: when in­no­va­tion and tra­di­tion meet.”

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.

“Mi­crosoft Sur­face de­vices have be­come ubiq­ui­tous on NFL side­lines and in the coaches’ booth,” Mi­crosoft gen­eral man­ager

Robert Matthews said in an email.

“Cur­rently, ev­ery NFL team is us­ing Mi­crosoft Sur­face in some ca­pac­ity through­out their or­ga­ni­za­tion — rang­ing from serv­ing as play­books to film re­view be­ing con­ducted on Sur­face Hubs, to in-sta­dium and busi­ness op­er­a­tions teams us­ing Mi­crosoft Sur­face in their front of­fice.

“We have or­ga­ni­za­tions around the league, such as the Buc­ca­neers and Jaguars, fully

em­brac­ing our tech­nol­ogy ... as the so­lu­tion to ev­ery tech­nol­ogy need a team could have, on and off the field.”

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.


Ref­eree Tony Cor­rente (99) looks at the in­stant re­play on a Mi­crosoft Sur­face tablet Wed­nes­day dur­ing an NFL pre­sea­son game be­tween the Carolina Pan­thers and the Hous­ton Tex­ans in Charlotte, N.C.

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