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Fox to use "Turf Cams" in NFL


Metal Rules
Fox Sports' coverage of the Super Bowl on Feb. 6 will be able to include pictures from miniature cameras embedded in the field, network and NFL officials said Tuesday.

This is the first time such images will be available during an NFL telecast.

Fox unveiled the devices, which have a lens the size of a pencil eraser, during last summer's Major League Baseball All-Star Game and used them during the playoffs and World Series. Three of the cameras - dubbed "diamond cams" - were implanted in the grass in front of the home-plate area. Another was buried in the grass just in front of the pitcher's mound. They had no impact on play.

For the Super Bowl, Fox will deploy at least 12 "turf cams" in various positions on the playing field, all within the hash marks, Fox executive vice president of production Bill Brown said.

Brown said each embedded camera would be attached by cable to a small electric box buried in the field. The only thing protruding above the surface will be the camera lens. The cameras will be placed at a slight angle so they can bounce back up if a player falls on them.

"A normal game has 150-160 plays. We're hoping to get five plays within the view of these cameras," Brown said. "If the camera is at the line of scrimmage, after the ball is snapped you can see what it's like to be there when NFL linemen collide at the snap of the ball."

Fox personnel implanted the cables for the cameras when the turf at Alltel Stadium was replaced Jan. 3-4 after the Jacksonville Jaguars' last home game. Brown said up to four more turf cams might be added Super Bowl week.

"The technology has become so good there's no reason not to approve it," NFL public relations vice president Greg Aiello said. "The players are not going to notice it. It's another technical innovation that has our support."

Aiello said league officials would use the week before the game to make sure the cameras won't interfere with place kicks.

Fox's turf cams will become part of the NFL's video review system of calls on the field if images from one of the cameras can aid in the decision. "If Fox puts it on the air, then it's fair game for instant replay," Aiello said. "But it has to be put on the air for viewers to see."