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NFL cracks down on use of electronic devices during games

Mike Florio and Chris Simms dissect how Tua Tagovailoa struggled after hitting his head and why it’s a bad look as an organization to not evaluate the QB immediately.

The NFL has cracked down this season on fake injuries and real electronic devices.

Per multiple sources, the league has aggressively imposed fines during the 2022 for violation of the electronic device policy. In all, 12 teams and three players have been fined this year.

In a reminder sent to all teams on December 2 (the same day teams were reminded about the faking of injuries), the NFL explained to all teams that it has “observed several electronic device policy violations this season.”

“As a result, clubs have been fined the minimum amount of $50,000, and players have been fined the minimum amount of $5,305,” the league explained in the December 2 memo. “Clubs are strongly encouraged to put pregame processes in place to ensure compliance. This should include verifying that each individual with bench area, locker room, and coaches’ booth access are not wearing or possessing a prohibited electronic device (e.g., cell phone, Apple Watch, Fitbit, etc.) at kickoff.”

The policy prohibits coaches and players from using, wearing, or having in their possession any electronic device (phone, Apple Watch, laptop, tablet, etc.) that is not league issued.

Football operations staff and team medical personnel may have a cell phone to address other duties, but they must “step out of the coaches booth or away from the bench area to use their cell phone.” They are at all times prevented from using or wearing an Apple watch or similar wearable device that has data transmitting capabilities when in the bench area or the coaches booth. They also are prohibited from communicating competitive or strategic information.

As one source explained it, the electronic device policy is a “line in the sand” for the league office. The goal is to prevent any potential pathway for communicating inside information during games regarding injuries or other strategic considerations.

As with fake injuries, the league believes it must be aggressive when addressing any potential threats to the broader integrity of the game. Given the ease with which electronic devices could communicate such information, the league has opted to enforce the policy aggressively.

A source with one of the NFL’s teams said that the league has representatives at games studying sidelines for potential violations. The league, as the source put it, is “terrified” of the possibility that doctors or other medical personnel will disseminate real-time medical information during games.

It’s good that the league is taking steps to block potential pathways for the misuse of inside information. It should be the beginning not the end; creation and proactivity is necessary when it comes to spotting these potential issues and preventing them from becoming problems.