Denver Broncos the latest to jump onto iPad Playbook

The Denver Broncos have jettisoned its old time playbooks in favor of the bright new shiny iPad; 120 tablets in all which will feature Verizon Wireless 4G access and with most of the iPads top end models with 64GB, according to the Denver Post.

The team plans to load the iPads not only with the playbook but also with each weeks game plan, scouting reports on upcoming teams and video clips among other digital data. The system will be set up so that as new plays are developed they will be ‘pushed’ onto each tablet.

In the past the team had printed a 500 pound playbook each week of the season that contained much of the information, but the sheer mass made it very difficult to quickly locate different pieces of information.

The program was co designed by the Broncos and a developer named PlayerLync and among the program’s features is the ability to allow players and coaches to annotate and highlight plays as well as provide the team with playbook security by enabling it to erase the entire iPad remotely.

The team will provide the iPads to coaches, players, scouts and other team personnel. It should be noted that while the players and coaches can use the iPads for practice and training purposes the NFL does not allow electronic devices of this type to be on the field during games.

The league has relented somewhat in that in the past these notebooks and tablets had to be off in the locker room 90 minutes prior to kickoff, now that rule has been rescinded.

This is part of a growing trend in the NFL and elsewhere; teams have found that instead of cumbersome paper notebooks, sleek iPads or tablets can not only easily replace them but enhance the value of the digital playbooks by allowing for remote upgrades and player feedback.

At least nine NFL teams now use the iPad, with five, the Dallas Cowboys, St. Louis Rams, Seattle Seahawks, Indianapolis Colts, and Detroit Lions, signing on with Global Apptitude last month. MLB has also been increasingly active in this area as well.

Modevity Confirms Rise of the iPad Playbook in the NFL

Could Darrelle Revis be even better if the New York Jets used Modevity ARALOC Sports Platform?

A team’s NFL playbook is its lifeblood. And at least two teams are using iPads for competitive advantage. They’ve tapped a rising, 20-person company in Pennsylvania named Modevity LLC to handle encryption of data and rights management to distribute playbooks and scouting video to players, and to instantly turn off access to the playbook if a player is cut or traded.

Modevity in huddle with NFL’s early adopters

Modevity LLC specializes in digital rights management, and it has been winning business in its seven-year history by distributing such data as sensitive documents to board members at publicly traded companies and genome information to biologists at life sciences companies.  Its platform, called ARALOC, eschews a Web portal, and all its risks. All data, whether it is a text document, audio or video is encrypted at the server, and passed to the client application. Sophisticated rights management controls on the server side ensure only the right applications have access. That reduces the likelihood data will be pirated during distribution, prevents the data from being stored locally on a mobile device, and allows access to be turned off the instant it is necessary.

Seeing that a professional sport team’s playbook was every bit as sensitive as corporate board materials or advanced medical research, Modevity recently branched expanded into sports. To date, its foray is wildly successful. The NHL’s Phoenix Coyotes this week officially confirmed that it is using Modevity’s ARALOC Sports Platform. And, now, Modevity co-founder Tom Canova confirmed exclusively to that at least two NFL teams are using ARALOC to better prepare for football games. 

“I don’t think any team would argue with us that securing the playbook is first and foremost a concern of everyone in the league,” Canova said. “We are very confident we have the most secure mobile content platform out there.”

The Baltimore Ravens, Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Atlanta Falcons are reportedly using iPads to distribute team data in 2011, but if your favorite NFL team isn’t on that list don’t be discouraged. Canova would not name any NFL team as a client during an interview with, citing confidentiality agreements. And some teams distribute data via iPads without Modevity, which is risky business. In those scenarios, team officials load information manually on an iPad, which means that it could easily fall into the hands of Bill Belichick or another rival, if it were lost or stolen.  

Canova believes that the digital playbook will quickly spread across professional sports, and that ARALOC Sports Platform will be at the center of the mix.

“I don’t care if it is the NBA, NHL or NFL,” Canova said. “Everyone is trying to figure out in an automated process how (to get) their content distributed to a mobile device like an iPad.”

Playbook paradigm shift  

What’s happening with Modevity’s ARALOC Sports Platform is a paradigm shift in the way teams prepare for competition. Previously, teams relied on playbooks, and there were fines between $5,000 to $10,000 if you lost it. Using Modevity ARALOC Sports Platform, players can access digital versions of a team’s playbook on mobile devices, including Android devices. The players can annotate the plays with commentary, and share those comments with coaches, other players, or any other approved playbook on the system.

Some NFL teams are doing similar things with iPads but they don’t use ARALOC Sports Platform. Others are still distributing data via DVDs. Unless content is being distributed in an encrypted system with digital rights management, the information could be pirated, stolen or misappropriated, Canova pointed up.

“We are saying to the teams that you are at risk from the standpoint of content security,” Canova said. “You as a team have to be concerned that your playbook ewill get in the hands of some of your rivals.”

Interactive Scouting Reports

No professional sport relies on game film more heavily than the NFL, and ARALOC Sports Platform includes an application designed to maximize a team’s potential in the arena of scouting. All NFL teams have video production studios in their team facilities, and once film is cut it can be distributed using ARALOC Sports Platform to player devices. In fact, ARALOC includes a “telestration” feature, which allows coaches and players to mark up the film, and redistribute it to other approved team members.

So, if New York Jets cornerback Darrelle Revis — already one of the NFL’s most video-prepared players on any given Sunday — wanted a practice squad player to mimic a specific move San Diego Chargers’ wide receiver Vincent Jackson makes at the line of scrimmage, Revis could mark the film and send it to the practice squad player responsible for emulating Jackson. That’s a whole lot easier than sending an email, trying to explain it over the phone, or describing it on the practice field.


Canova would not comment on teams using Modevity, but Fox Radio host Ben Maller previous made a brief mention that the Baltimore Ravens and Atlanta Falcons. Here is what was posted on

“The Baltimore Ravens have gotten rid of the old school paper playbook. They’re saving trees by giving players the playbook via on iPad. The National Football Post reports if the iPad is lost or stolen, or the player gets cut or traded, the Ravens have the ability to remotely erase all the information in the playbook. The Falcons have also shifted more to the use of Apple’s iPad.”

Blogger Simon Brown, who publishes Sports HR, reported that the Tampa Bay Buccaneers were using iPads to deliver plays. He was critical of the practice. Here is what he said:

“Sure, it seems like a cool idea for Tampa Bay to have its players download their playbooks to iPads. The problem is, aside from the usual dangers of players losing books or having them stolen, now the team is using a device that can be hacked. It’s great that the team wants to be hip (and green!), but it’s not worth the added danger.”  

Brown’s perspective is reasonable, but he didn’t pick up on the fact that security and digital rights management are involved if your NFL team uses ARALOC, or a similar platform. iPads are hands down the No. 1 tablet device in use by NFL players, and the advantage of being able to distribute up-to-the-minute playbook information and game video to the players at home or on the road — versus having them hang at our a team video facility — far outweigh the risks.

iPads on the sidelines

There are limits to the usefulness of the digital playbook. The NFL bans smartphones and iPads on the sidelines, according to a report on The Atlantic Wire. So, it won’t be until the 2012 NFL season, and would require a rules change, for you to see Modevity ARALOC Sports Platform used in a game situation.

GMs look to expand ARALOC use

It is expected that the 2012 NFL draft class will be evaluated by scouts passing information and annotated information using Modevity ARALOC Sports Platform, Canova said. And team officials are clamoring for Modevity to build applications that make contract negotiations as fail safe as the distribution of game film, Canova said.

“A number of front office executives have told me that they want to use the system in the secure distribution of other forms of confidential content, including content used in contract negotiations,” Canova said. “We’re seeing a lot of future thinking (from our NFL clients), and, as a technology provider, we are always interesting in how a customer might want to use ARALOC.”

Whether Mel Kiper Jr. starts using ARALOC to pass around data with his sources remains to be seen, but its clear that distribution of secure data to mobile devices via sophisticated digital rights management is the wave of the future in the NFL.

Courtesy of Modevity, here’s a diagram of its ARALOC solution: