Lukewarm reception for helmet transmitters

MIKE GANTER, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 9:08 PM ET

The Canadian Football League might want to check on the definition of “innovation” — a word tossed around by the league on Tuesday.

Because, while helmet transmitters connecting quarterbacks to coaches and offensive co-ordinators might be a CFL innovation, there’s really nothing new about this.

NFL coaches and co-ordinators have been communicating directly with the quarterback in game situations since 1994.

Argonauts quarterback Cleo Lemon says he has to go back to his college days for the last time he didn’t have a transmitter in his helmet.

“When you make that transition, it’s a lot easier, a lot faster to get the play calls in,” Lemon said.

“It will help out the offence tremendously.”

Down the QEW in Hamilton, Ticats quarterback Kevin Glenn was reserving judgment just a little.

“It’s okay,’ Glenn said. “You have to get used to it. The biggest thing is you cannot simulate a game situation with the crowd and someone talking in your ear.

“You will have to wait until a pre-season game to get the full effect. You can say it is good now, but you might get in a game and say, ‘I can’t hear a thing you are saying.’ ”

League spokesman Jamie Dykstra confirmed yesterday the league has been testing this sort of thing since 2006, but it is only now, with the league somewhat stabilized and interested again in investing in advancements like the helmet transmitter, that it has been possible to go ahead with something like this.

There’s no question that back when the NFL was introducing these helmets, the CFL was much more concerned with just remaining viable to even think about taking on any additional costs.

Each team will be outfitted with three radio-in-helmet units, one for each of the QBs that dress, but only one can be active at any one time.

Coaches or offensive co-ordinators up in the press box will be able to communicate plays to the quarterbacks but will not be able to receive messages back as the QB helmets will not have microphones.

Argos head coach Jim Barker is excited the league has reached this stage.

“I think the games will flow smoother,” Barker said.

“I think you will see better execution everywhere. You still only have 20 seconds to get the call in and down to the quarterback but I think it’s really good for the league.”

Barker though already knows his voice won’t be in the ears of his quarterbacks — and for a very good reason.

“If I’m in the quarterbacks ear, he’s going to have a headache,” Barker said. “That’s not a good thing. (Argos offensive co-ordinator) Jaime (Elizondo) does a great job and he’ll be very calm and composed and let me be the head coach and do the things I have to do.

“We’ve gone through the whole signals deal in this league and while we still don’t have the helmet mics for defence (which the NFL introduced last season) it just alleviates all that and brings us into the next stage,” Barker said.

The Argos had the helmets delivered on Tuesday but were waiting on the batteries.

Barker said the team will test it out today in practice.


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