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Seeing Both Sides of the Patriots', Steelers' Headset Problems

18 Sep 2015 by Shay Moser


It’s the first NFL game of the 2015 season: Pittsburgh Steelers against New England Patriots. You’re watching the game with a side of tailgating food and friends. The rivalry develops during the game — but not just between you and your buddies.

Have you read about the headset issue heard around the nation?

In the first quarter of Thursday night’s season opener in Foxborough, Mass., on Sept. 10, 2015, the Pittsburgh Steelers’ coaches said their communications were conflicting with the sounds of the Patriots’ radio broadcast of the game, making it hard to hear one another.

Airline pilots’ conversations, a parking attendant’s request for backup, Doppler radar from local TV stations and in-stadium devices all could have been competing with the frequency that delivered communications on the field that night.

“Before I was in the sales engineering role, I worked with the Cardinals on helping them troubleshoot wireless issues,” says Devin Harshman, sales engineer for Insight. “Between the Cardinals IT staff and knowing the NFL is bringing all of their equipment, takes a tremendous amount of work to make it right. There’s a number of things that can happen.”

Depending on whom you ask, communications issues at NFL games can be caused by many things. With the Patriots’ recent history, some wonder if it’s them.

While the Steelers won’t file a formal complaint with the league, quarterback Ben Roethlisberger was still discussing concerns over the headset issues in the 28-21 season-opening loss to the Patriots days after the game. The league's explanation satisfied Steelers' head coach.

“Based on our review to date, we believe that the audio interference on Steelers’ headsets last night was entirely attributable to an electrical issue made worse by the inclement weather…” said NFL spokesman Michael Signora in a statement regarding the matter.

Competing radio frequencies and bad weather can cause major glitches at any NFL game. And it takes harmony between hundreds of people behind the scenes to manage all the technology and equipment. Here’s to no major fumbles — on or off the field — for your football team in this 2015 season.