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Just after training camp closed last year, Offensive Coordinator Cam Cameron wondered if the Ravens could put their several-hundred page playbook on some sort of tablet reader.
A few weeks later, Head Coach John Harbaugh asked the same question.
Now, after almost a year of development, the Ravens’ playbook is completely on a set of iPads that players and coaches constantly tote around.
Early in the transition, the response is positive.
“There are things it’s good for and things that the paper is better for,” said quarterback Joe Flacco. “You can put video on it, which is very convenient. It’s nice to not have to carry around a giant playbook all week.
“I do print some things out so I can mark down the route progressions and things like that, but in all, it’s been an easy transition.”
For the Ravens’ brass, it was a natural evolution in the 21st century.
No longer should everyone have to lug a facsimile of the Yellow Pages and update it with copied inserts that waste astronomical amounts of paper.
Instead, players head into meetings with their uniform black leather iPad case ready to take notes with the included stylus.
The Ravens originally bought 110 iPads, but had to add 10 more once the roster was expanded to 90 players.
And one only had to look at the glowing screens on the team flight home from Atlanta last week to see how eager everyone is to utilize them.
“Our video staff has already got the game loaded on their laptop, so all they have to do is plug in through iTunes and load it up on the plane,” said Nick Fusee, the Ravens’ Director of Information Technology. “It only takes a minute, and the guys like that.”
Fusee was the prime driver of this project. After consulting with several application designers, he decided to stay local with Global Aptitude.
He also tested several tablets before coming to a conclusion on the 64-gigabite iPad II.
Considering that Apple just came out with the iPad II a few months ago, Fusee thinks the Ravens will save considerable printing costs that are incurred with a paper playbook.
“We looked at a lot of different tablets out there, but the iPad seemed to be the one that fit the best. We think we can get a few years out of this one,” said Fusee.
The Ravens’ biggest challenge was security of sensitive information.
But they’ve taken considerable measures to ensure the playbook stays in-house. If a user gets their password wrong three times, the iPad is wiped clean. There are also “time bombs” that can erase a playbook after each game.
What’s more, Megan McLaughlin, Executive Assistant to the Coaching Staff, controls what gets uploaded to the cloud and can remotely delete anything.
“My biggest worry was someone intercepting it through a download,” said Fusee. “We’re using 256-bit encryption, which is Department of Defense level.”
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers have also put their playbook on iPads, and Fusee thinks it’s just a matter of time before every club across the league adopts the same technology.
“I had no idea [the Buccaneers] were doing it, but I guarantee that all teams are looking how to do this, and a few years from now, everyone is going to have something like this, whether it’s an iPad or some other device,” said Fusee.