Players who don't make the final cut this year will not be asked to turn in their playbooks. Instead, they will hand over an iPad.
The San Diego Chargers are among several NFL teams that have put their playbook on the iPad this season. The new technology has been warmly embraced by players and coaches, but not everybody is ready to abandon old-fashioned pen and paper.
Coach Norv Turner had no concerns about making the transition. “It has been outstanding,” Turner said. “It has been so much faster. It cuts off hours on what the coaches have to spend preparing stuff, and it is so convenient for the players.”
FB Jacob Hester said: “You can pretty much have everything. You have your film, your plays, your schedules, everything is on there. It's super easy. It's this thick (0.37”), as opposed to eight inches with my old playbook.”
QB Philip Rivers enjoys how the iPad allows him to make quick adjustments. “If you change a route, they can do something and bam it changes,” Rivers said, “Without having to get a new printout, rip that page and [put the new page in]. It's a lot more efficient.”
Rivers even showed off his iPad to his parents. “My mom was like, ‘Look how far they have come from [my dad's] little yellow notepad you draw up stuff on.'”
The biggest advantage is the seamless integration of the playbook with film study. Video of every player's plays from games and practices are sent to their individual iPads through Wi-Fi. This enables players to study film from anywhere. “You can be in the car and pull up tape from practice,” OLB Larry English said. “It has been great.”
English, however, is not ready to give up his pen and paper. “I still learn by writing,” English said. “When we're in meetings and we are talking about stuff, I still personally write things down in my notebook. I always refer back to the iPad as a guide for any questions I have.”
Rivers agreed with English. “There are certain things you just want to jot down,” Rivers said. “You can do the writing on the iPad with your finger. What's unbelievable is I can make a page of notes; they can scan it and put it on-line. So, you could read your notes on there that you actually took. I think most guys are still going to carry around a little notebook.”
Rivers described the iPad as a good study tool, but he doesn't believe it will actually help him prepare better. “I don't think that will be the case,” River said.