Headsets hit CFL gridiron

IAN BUSBY, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 10:51 AM ET

Henry Burris will have Dave Dickenson's voice in his head all week preparing for games this season.

Now, the Calgary Stampeders quarterback will be hearing his coach when he's on the field, as well. The CFL announced Tuesday it will debut coach-to-quarterback headsets this season for wireless communication between the parties.

And both Burris and Dickenson are excited for the technology they used years ago in the NFL and two seasons ago as an experiment during the pre-season.

It's a one-way stream, with the system getting turned on after a play is blown dead and turned off when the playclock reaches 10.

"I already hear Dave's voice in my sleep," Burris said with a laugh. "To me, a couple of things improve and give us a better chance at executing the offence with the headsets.

"This should allows plays to happen a lot quicker and allow offences to execute better, because everyone should know what they are supposed to do. It won't be a rush to the line of scrimmage. Communication is a big factor in offences that are successful."

Two years ago, the Stamps and the Edmonton Eskimos tried out the system in a pre-season outing when Dickenson was still an active player.

It is similar to what Dickenson used in the NFL for two seasons, and he's thrilled to get it in the CFL.

"The main thing on the headset is (doing without) the signals," said Dickenson, who is the quarterbacks coach and play-caller for the Stamps. The coaches and quarterbacks spend a lot of time during the week learning signals. What the headset does is it allows you to focus on the plays of what you are doing that week. You aren't just memorizing the signals.

"It allows us to talk more football and have better communication to the huddle and potentially letting you coach a little while he's in the huddle.

"They cut it off at 10, but if you are calling a route for a certain reason, you can let him know. Most of the time, the quarterback knows why you are calling a play, but with a headset, it allows you to do more coaching, and hopefully not screw him up."

Each team will get three headsets for each of the quarterbacks dressed that week, although only one is active at any one time.

A coach can use his from either the sidelines or the spotter's booth. A league employee will be in charge of switching the system on and off, and the signal will be recorded back in the command centre at CFL headquarters to ensure fair operation.

Dickenson said the Stamps will start practising with the units before using them in the pre-season games.

Burris expects the new system to improve offensive flow.

"It allows us to maximize those 20 seconds," Burris said about the playclock. "It's not a lot of time ... It allows us a few more seconds to get guys where they need to be and make the right call."


Videos

Photos