Two seasons ago it was drones, last season it was virtual reality, and this year it's mobile tackling dummies.
Yes, you read correctly: the new wave of sports technology is upon us. Mobile Virtual Player (MVP) has created a tackling dummy that simulates player motion on the field, thus reducing player-on-player contact, minimizing the risk of injury, and potentially circumventing NFL rules.
Inside the dummy there is a motor, and it's operated by a remote control. The user will be able to control the dummy and simulate the moves of an actual player. For an idea of how fast it goes, it basically "runs" a 40-yard dash in five seconds at about 140 pounds.
The dummy could be used for practicing tackling, blocking mobile targets, cutting, and throwing at targets. Per the MVP website, below are several real-life football applications.
QB: Simulate a pass rush from two DEs, passing pocket mobility drills, run routes and catch ball in "Catch Net."RB: Simulate a blitzing linebacker to block, avoid MVP when hitting the hole.
WR: Release and stack, mirror drill to simulate blocking a DB/LB, distraction drill, run route against MVP (swim/big arm).
OL: Practice cut blocking on screen pass, DE/DT pass rush, 1 on 1's against DL with MVP as the QB.
DL: Simulate the QB in pocket, OL taking his pass set.
LB: Angle tackling drills, RB in Oklahoma tackling drill, open field tackling
DB: Two MVPs simulate a route combination, angle tackling drills, open field tackling, and pursuit angles.
Athlete: Agility training, endurance running, pacer.
One of the cool things about the dummies is that creates the potential to change NFL practices. As many of you know, NFL rules specifically state that there should be no live contact during certain phases of the offseason, not to mention regular season practices. The MVP is an excellent alternative, giving teams and coaches more options to have contact practices, without breaking the rules, thus minimizing the risk of injuries. With the growing concerns about brain trauma and other injuries, MVP seems like the better and safer alternative to train and condition athletes, if the technology pans out.
MVP is already being used at both the collegiate and professional level. Both the Pittsburgh Steelers and the Dartmouth University football team have been using the dummies. Dartmouth football coach Buddy Teevens, who coached the team for 15 years, told recruits that "they will never tackle another Dartmouth football player." He told Congress last month that the results have led to far fewer concussions, and less practice time lost due to injuries, leading to more wins.
What do you think, Buffalo Bills fans? Is this the type of technology you'd want the Bills to use in the near future? Or is it just another fad that won't stick in today's NFL? I'm interested in hearing your opinions.