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Helmet cams could soon enhance NFL broadcasts

Earlier this month, we looked at the potential impact drones could make on the production of NFL broadcasts. But that’s not the only technological advancement football viewers could benefit from in the years to come.

It might only be a matter of time before live NFL broadcasts feature footage from helmet cams. But as has been the case with drones, the technology will likely be implemented first as a teaching tool.

In this case, the Pittsburgh Steelers appear to be leading the charge.

From Mark Kaboly of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review:

The Steelers during spring practices experimented with new technology called SchuttVision — a full contact-capable helmet with an integrated high-definition video system that records never-seen-before angles that can be used as a teaching tool.

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It’s not quite to the level of analytics or advanced statistics that have become popular in baseball and hockey, but for an organization that doesn’t advocate change, the helmet cam — even if on a trial basis — can be considered a leap of faith.

“This time of year, I think it’s appropriate to be open to the growth of technology in our game,” Tomlin said. “So I’ll do things such as that and look at innovative things and see if it can be useful to us.”

SchuttVision, which is only a few months old, is being used by 33 NFL and NCAA teams, according to Kaboly. And they’re already using it in arena football as a broadcasting tool.

“This is something that networks want in their broadcasts,” said founder JR Liverman, who according to Kaboly has had preliminary talks with the NFL. “I don’t have a crystal ball in knowing when that will happen. I absolutely believe that this will be integrated into the broadcasts on all levels of football over the next years.”

And as you can see in this video of Adrian Peterson wearing a helmet cam at Vikings minicamp last week, the footage has a good chance of being an awesome complement to NFL broadcasts.

But even if the footage isn’t a game-changer for the networks, it would be silly for them not to adopt the helmet cam system if the price is right. And when you throw in the potential payoff when it comes to replay reviews, this is something the league should be enthusiastic about.

From Pro Football Talk’s Mike Florio:

It seems to be only a matter of time before the cameras blanketing the field will be complemented by cameras in the field, with that footage eventually becoming the source of evidence to overturn, or to uphold, key calls.

One possible hangup? A pair of NFL safety committees have already lobbied to stop teams from using different helmets as part of throwback uniforms because, as PFT stated in a story on that development in 2013, “once players have properly fitted helmets that they’re comfortable wearing, the NFL doesn’t want them changing helmets during the season just for appearances.”

So that could create some red tape. Still, this is something to watch.

Brad Gagnon

About Brad Gagnon

Brad Gagnon has been passionate about both sports and mass media since he was in diapers -- a passion that won't die until he's in them again. Based in Toronto, he's worked as a national NFL blog editor at theScore.com (covering Super Bowls XLIV, XLV and XLVI), a producer and writer at theScore Television Network and a host, reporter and play-by-play voice at Rogers TV. His work has also appeared at Deadspin, FoxSports.com, The Guardian, The Hockey News and elsewhere at Bloguin, but his day gig has him covering all things NFC East for Bleacher Report.

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