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The Internet of Things comes to the NFL

Thor Olavsrud | Sept. 8, 2015
Every NFL player and stadium will be equipped with RFID sensors and receivers, respectively, this football season, allowing the league to track fine-grained location data for every play.

She notes that the New Orleans Saints and Head Coach Sean Payton have worked closely with Zebra on the player performance side of things.

"When you tell him that his star running back just ran seven miles in what was supposed to be their off-day practice, that's probably four miles too many," Stelfox says. "He might come to us then and say, 'I want you to tell me when he's gotten to four."

One of the big lessons Zebra learned in the process, she adds, is that generic data scientists weren't sufficient to gain insights from the data. Zebra needed football experts.

"When you look at analytics in football, you really need football people," she says. "We had to go out and hire football people. The analytics from manufacturing weren't the same as the analytics from football. We could see correlations in the data that seemed important and then they weren't. We had to bring in people that had the football expertise who could say, 'Look, this is why it matters.'"

This season, Swensson says, you can expect the NFL to surface some of its new data on its Thursday night broadcasts and portions of games aired on CBS. The data will also be integrated with and the NFL's fantasy football offerings.

nfl tech infographic
(Click for larger image.)


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