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Shutdown Corner

Coming soon: Live mic’d up players and live referee conversations

Shutdown Corner

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Tucked away at the bottom of this Wall Street Journal article about the NFL's ongoing attendance problems is a note about the league's plan to share a little more live on-field conversation with us.

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Specifically, some kind of app is in the works that will let you listen to a raw feed of a player wearing a microphone. Also a possibility in the future is getting to listen to officials discuss calls in private (until now, evidently) huddles. Snippets:

Owners have granted permission for the league to place microphones on certain players so that fans can hear on-field commentary via an in-the-work app that would distribute raw feeds. That is a privilege previously awarded only to networks holding broadcast rights.

Under consideration is a plan to make fans in the seats privy to the conversations between referees during reviews of disputed calls. It is a "long way off," said [NFL executive vice president of ventures and business operations Eric] Grubman, but it represents a desire to welcome in-stadium fans into long-secret huddles on the sideline and in the locker room in the name of helping attendance.

From the perspective of coaches, players or officials, these plans would seem terribly troublesome. A number of issues come to mind immediately, and there are probably a lot of others that would surface as it happened. This seems like it would be a nightmare for those guys to deal with.

I, however, am not a player, a coach or an official, so I say bring it on. I'll listen to pretty much anyone, if the alternative is Chris Berman.

I don't know if I'd feel good about it, though. I'm not sure it's fair. If a player is wearing a microphone, and there's no filter between what he hears and what I hear, doesn't that potentially get a lot of people in trouble? Aren't we going to hear about a million things that players wish wouldn't be public? Not just from the guys who consent to be mic'd, but from everyone in their vicinity, too. And wouldn't play calls and information from coaches be exposed? I can't think of a way this can be done that's both entertaining to me and doesn't put players at risk.

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And if you're an official, do you really want a microphone in your huddle? There's enough pressure on those guys to just get the call right ‒ do fans really have to be part of the process, too? Aren't these guys scrutinized heavily enough? I'm not sure this is fair to them, either.

But yes, if you're asking me, I do want to hear players insult each other's wives and mothers, and I do want to hear coaches screaming at officials. I just can't imagine the league letting me do it, though.

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