Sports Tech With Ric Serritella: Not A Businessman but A Business, Man

Stay on top of hot topics and latest trends in Sports Tech with Ric Serritella of the NFL Draft Bible…

We’ve all heard the term “locker room talk,” but what exactly do players discuss amongst themselves when hanging in the locker room? One topic that has become prominent amongst players is entrepreneurship.

When a player is chosen in the NFL Draft, not only is he rewarded with a lucrative professional contract, but he’s also suddenly inundated with an abundance of business opportunities; the same is true when he signs a mega-dollars deal in free agency. A smart investment can reap a handsome return on investment (ROI), but a poor business decision could be costly and, as we’ve seen far too often, can even bankrupt athletes.

Several weeks ago, we highlighted some of the premier sports tech events occurring this summer, including the 49ers/SportTechie NEXT at Levi’s Stadium earlier this month. The event highlighted several interesting topics, including the attitude a player has towards his involvement with a product. Athletes no longer just want to slap their names on items. Instead, they want to be influencers, want to be part of the ‘creative’ process, want to have a say in how the message is delivered, and/or want to be rewarded with a piece of ownership.

Much of the locker room chatter these days revolves around what to invest in, how the process of investing works, and who to trust. So what are some of the hot topic industries that have players’ buzzing? One popular topic is CBD products such as water and supplements. Others are curious to see how the legalized sports gambling landscape shakes out, while some have invested in blockchain technology and cryptocurrencies.

Having stock in some of these businesses could be risky and deemed controversial by ‘The Shield.’ Hence, players must be well-informed and educated in order to make the right decisions. With so much new technology emerging, it can be difficult to decipher the difference between the next big, lucrative opportunity or an overhyped, new technology that fails to deliver.

Casey Schwab knows a little about that topic. The 49ers/SportTechie NEXT event featured Schwab, who serves as Vice President of Business and Legal Affairs at NFL Players Inc., among its panelists. Schwab told a story of the time when the licensing arm of the NFLPA was offered a business proposition: forego its traditional player licensing fees in exchange for capital in Bitstrips, the parent company of the Bitmoji app. The NFLPA declined and, two years later, in March of 2016, Bitstrips was acquired by Snap for $115 million.

Some of the most successful athletes (Derek Jeter, LeBron James, etc.) made or make more money from their business ventures than from the teams that employ them. They have provided a model for what every pro player should aspire to be.

*Want to Succeed In Football? Looking for an edge to get ahead? Check out our premium service at www.InsideTheLeague.com, which is geared toward guiding agents, trainers and football industry professionals in achieving their business goals. 

 

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Ask the Scouts: Are TV Draft Gurus Legitimate GM/Front Office Candidates?

If you follow the NFL scouting profession — and maybe even if you don’t — you’ve noticed that more and more often, NFL teams are looking to the broadcast booth to find their GM and executive candidates. As you might expect, this has not gone unnoticed in scouting circles.

We thought we’d ask some of our friends in the scouting community what they thought about this. We posed this question: What are your thoughts on McShay, Jeremiah, Mayock, getting NFL jobs or consideration for them? Net positive (brings attention to scouting, which might improve pay/conditions) or net negative (people w/yrs of scouting/dues-paying getting overlooked)?

We got 12 responses, and some of them were pretty positive. Here’s a sampling:

  • “The scouting community has changed over the past five years. New/younger owners and new/younger GM’s have depleted front offices of experienced scouts and hired brand-new-out-of-college ‘information-gatherers.’ This has dropped salaries of scouts tremendously. Assistant coaches in the NFL have seen a 400% salary increase in the past 20 years, whereas scouting salaries have stayed the same with experienced scouts but dropped overall because of the high amount of young inexperienced personnel. Adding GMs with zero NFL front office experience but just TV doesn’t help this new model, but only hurts the overall product. Daniel Jeremiah and Louis Riddick are different because each have a lot of experience in NFL front offices.” 
  • “I really don’t see any big problem with it, if they convince an owner they are qualified. I think (the) biggest concern would be “boots on the ground” time at schools — all the contacts and little day-to-day items that scouts do. But then again, for the roles they are up for (director level), that’s not as important. Hell, some of the names who are scouts that get interviewed aren’t qualified, and we’ve seen some colossal flame-outs as well.”
  • “I see it like Hollywood going to war. No more rubber bullets (fans and viewers). Now the bullets are real (owners). (Former Lions GM) Matt Millen might could answer the question from similar experience!”
  • “In the end, I would like to think that there are worthy candidates already in the profession, but that being said, being a scout doesn’t necessarily prepare you for leading people or an organization.  Oftentimes the clubs want a smooth, media-friendly guy to be the face and those guys have that.  I would think the hard thing is the learning curve…you only have 2 or at most 3 years to get it right so learning on the job is a hard ask.”
  • “There are others that have been promoted to GM positions that have been shockers, either because their agent has strong influence, or the media has them as the next up-and-coming person because that individual has struck up a personal relationship with the media and being pushed. I question the owners’ ability to make consistent informed decisions, but that is just me. What would be interesting is to see how much the turnover has been in GM positions in the last 20 years.  The age of GMs getting the position and age they are getting fired. The owners have put in their rule that you must have permission to interview to move up except for the GM position which keeps very capable individuals stuck without the ability to better their lives just so they can save money yet from what I see lately are guys unqualified getting the jobs and fired early, which costs the owners more in the long run. More, as in the millions.”

Naturally, not everyone saw the bright side of the broadcasters-to-scouts trend. Some were outraged, while some were more nuanced. You can read their responses in today’s Friday Wrap, which comes out in less than three hours. The Wrap is our weekly review of the pro and college business, and it comes out at 7:30 p.m. ET every Friday. You can check out last week’s edition here, and you can register for it here.

We hope you can join us. You won’t regret it.

 

Do Head Coaches Have All The Power in Today’s NFL?

The Texans’ dismissal of Brian Gaine as GM last week was part of a trend, but probably not a trend anyone is discussing much these days. I think Gaine’s exit is the latest confirmation that the center of power has changed from the general manager to the head coach, especially in the last 2-3 years. Consider:

  • The Bills gave first-time head coach Sean McDermott almost complete control of decision-making after the team cleaned house in the scouting department in April 2017, just four months after hiring him.
  • Similarly, just a few months after hiring Adam Gase as head coach, the Jets allowed Gase to force out GM Mike Maccagnan and bring in a GM with which he is far more comfortable, Joe Douglas.
  • The Panthers and the Chiefs — two teams with tenured, established head coaches — each fired respected GMs in the summer of 2017, a previously unheard-of move with training camp just weeks away.
  • The Cardinals hired Kliff Kingsbury, who had been fired at Texas Tech, as their new head coach though he had no previous NFL experience. Then they spent the No. 1 pick on his guy, a player that the team will have to completely reshape their offense to fit and dumped last year’s first-round QB.
  • In New Orleans, GM Mickey Loomis doesn’t even spend all his time on the Saints, as he also has a leadership role with the NBA Pelicans. Most of his duties are business- and cap-related, anyway.
  • Though Falcons Assistant GM Scott Pioli left on his own terms after the draft, his departure gives head coach Dan Quinn a much stronger hand in the organization’s direction.

That’s eight teams (Bills, Cardinals, Chiefs, Falcons, Jets, Panthers, Saints and Texans) that have acted decisively to hand the iron in the organization to the head coach, or that have a structure that doesn’t put the locus of strength in the front office. You can expect other teams to copy them, given that five of those eight teams have been in the playoffs at least once since 2017.

Reasons for this are multiple.

  • The real innovation in football is taking place at the college level offensively. NFL teams are doing what they have to do to find college coaches that can bring in new ideas.
  • Today’s NFL rules strongly favor the offense, so you better have a head coach that can take advantage of that. If that means increasing his authority, you have to do it.
  • NFL coaches pay is skyrocketing. It’s not nearly as easy to just dump a coach and eat his salary as it used to be.

So what does this mean for scouts? It’s probably not good news. The GM is to scouts as the head coach is to assistant coaches, which means evaluators are probably not gaining in influence. It also means teams are likely to lean more on their coaches for draft decisions. This doesn’t say good things for where scout pay is headed.

Does this topic interest you? Would you like to read more about how NFL front offices are structured, where teams are looking for new coaches and GMs, what kinds of ideas are taking hold in NFL war rooms, and other such subjects, make sure to register for our free newsletter, the Friday Wrap. It’s a weekly recap of the business of football. If you enjoyed this post, I think you’ll like the Friday Wrap even more. Register here.

A Look at Modern NFL Scouting Department Models

This time of year, we are pretty active on Twitter publishing the scouts getting hired and fired by NFL teams. There is always plenty of misunderstanding of how this works and why it’s done, which we try to clear up along the way.

I thought I’d discuss a few archetypes in NFL scouting departments as well as some that are unique, for various reasons. I’ll be talking about this further with Matt Manocherian and Aaron Schatz on the Off the Charts Podcast this week.

Also, note that last summer we counted the members of each NFL team’s staff that had “scout” in the title, and we totaled it all up on our home site. We’ll draw on those numbers as we look at a few teams in the subsequent paragraphs.

Browns: The Browns are unusual in that they have more scouts and scouting assistants than anyone in the NFL (17 as of our count last summer). Most of this is a hangover from Sashi Brown’s days as GM, when the team was focused on a total changeover to analytics. That said, GM John Dorsey has been with the team for two offseasons now and he hasn’t reduced the size of the department, so apparently this is the Browns’ direction. By our count last year, only six teams had as many as 14 employees with “scout” in the title. Strengths: No one has cracked the analytics code, and with so many scouts on staff, Cleveland has as much chance to do that as any team. Weaknesses: Having so much redundancy makes for a fat payroll, and anyway, how many scouts is too many?

Patriots: New England is at the forefront of a model that’s gained serious traction in the last 10-15 years. Head coach/GM Bill Belichick and a couple selected confidantes sit at the top of a pyramid, and for the most part, the area scouts aren’t expected to come back with opinions. They’re expected to do the work that the combines, National Football Scouting and BLESTO, would normally do, i.e., bring back facts — injury histories, arrests and suspensions, heights and weights. Then Belichick & Co. do the rest. As we’ve seen teams (Lions, Falcons, Bucs and Titans among them) hire former Patriots officials as GMs, this philosophy has spread around the league. Strengths: The team has excellent continuity in its drafting philosophy between coaching staff and personnel department. Weaknesses: Though they have respected evaluators, Patriots have not always been as consistent on draft day as other teams, and must excel on the pro side.

Colts and Seahawks: Indianapolis and Seattle have gained a reputation of being the anti-Patriots, as they pride themselves on leaning on and trusting their evaluators, which is more of an old-school philosophy. Despite this, Chris Ballard (Colts) and John Schneider (Seahawks) both have excellent reputations and are seen as some of the best in the business. That’s why people like Ed Dodds, Dan Morgan, Trent Kirchner and Scott Fitterer, who all cut their teeth in Seattle, regularly get interviews when GM jobs come open. You’ll start to see the same happen in Indy as Ballard builds his team in Indy. Strengths: Talented people who have the trust of their GMs make for talented teams. Weaknesses: This structure keeps the pressure on the GM to constantly seek and hire talented executives as he inevitably loses some to other teams. Also, a couple bad hires can set the team back immensely.

Bengals: Cincinnati has always been known as a team that counts its pennies and checks them twice. This is why the team doesn’t employ a traditional scouting department, per se. Instead, the team tends to lean on its coaches to make the major personnel decisions, and though the team is slowly expanding its scouting presence, evaluators have to mold their opinions to coaches, instead of vice versa. Strengths: The Bengals may not be perennial Super Bowl contenders, but they have been remarkably consistent over the past 10-15 years. Weaknesses: The Bengals have been burned by character risks more than once; is that because they are more risk-tolerant, or because there are things they miss?

Others:

  • The Broncos and Texans were historically teams that toyed with the Bengals model, giving their coaches more input than other teams, but subsequent GM changes have muddied the waters there.
  • The Cowboys have had incredible continuity over the years with a rather lean department; given their turnover this year, it will be interesting to see if they adjust their philosophy at all.
  • Green Bay has historically put a lot of value on hiring former players, especially those with Packers roots, but that seems to be changing under new GM Brian Gutekunst.

Check out Inside the League for more discussion of scouts totals, areas, hires, and team philosophies. You can also register for our Friday Wrap, which is a weekly wrap-up of what’s going on in the football industry. Also, listen in as Matt, Aaron and I discuss scouting departments in the Off the Charts Podcast this week.

 

Sports Tech with Ric Serritella: Crowning the “King of Speed”

Each week, Sports Tech with Ric Serritella, features innovative technology being used in the world of American football.

The pro football season is a little less than 100 days away. Still, if you’re a rabid fan of the NFL, there may be a way to get your fix before camps start.

The event goes by the name 40 Yards of Gold, and the competitors intend to declare the “King of Speed” in the NFL by fusing entertainment and technology. They will do so utilizing what Quince Imaging calls, “projection mapping.” For the first time in history, fans will get to witness the new technology, which will create illusions on the field that make the participants appear to be running on futuristic platforms.

Projection mapping, also known as video mapping and spatial augmented reality, is an experience that needs to be seen to be fully understood. That’s why we dug up this video to help provide a visual. Professional sports are not a new arena for Quince, which is considered to be an industry leader in projection mapping and has also worked with Major League Baseball.

A couple of weeks ago, Saints wide out Ted Ginn declared that he’s “willing to race anyone for “$10,000 or better.” Now he’ll get a chance to put his money where his mouth is, with a twist. While no details of background images have been announced, projection mapping technology could make it appear that Ginn is running in outer space, on the moon, or on top of Mount Everest. It certainly will add to the entertainment value of the event, which will be held June 29 in Miami at a venue to be determined.

In addition to Ginn, the tournament will also feature NFL players Alvin Kamara (Saints), Kevin Byard (Titans), Corey Coleman (Giants), Robby Anderson (Jets), Mark Ingram (Ravens), Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie (Redskins), Trae Waynes (Vikings) and many more. Seeds will be determined by fan voting. Anyone interested in casting a ballot can do so here.

There will also be separate tournaments for youth, high school and college athletes. These respective races will be dubbed the ‘Gods of Speed’ competitions.

Additional website features will include highlights, interviews, articles, original content and much more, offering fans an inside look at the fastest players in the sport. For good measure, the event is also expected to have live music performances and fan features.

While many have clamored for the NFL to bring back the QB Challenge, this might be the next best thing. No word yet on if the 40 Yards of Gold event will be televised. Stay tuned! For more information on registration and tickets, click here.

Did you see which NFL players are investing in bitcoin? Check it out here. Plus, a list of sports tech events coming up this summer! Succeed in Football is part of the Inside The League network, which provides inside information to those who work in the football industry. Learn more here. And to register for the weekly Friday Wrap, a rundown on the football industry, click here.

 

Sports Tech with Ric Serritella: “Pay Me In Bitcoin”

Check back weekly for the latest ‘Sports Tech’ with Ric Serritella of NFL Draft Bible as we explore the impact of technology in sports and how it applies to the gridiron!

If the headline sounds intriguing, it is. Maybe it sounds preposterous. Could bitcoin really cross over into pro sports? According to one crypto insider, at least one NFL player has already attempted to be paid in bitcoin.

For those of you not familiar with the term, bitcoin is a form of crypto currency (electronic cash) free of government regulations and it operates independently of any banks. Bitcoin can be sent from peer to peer and is stored in a digital wallet. Transactions occur through blockchain technology, which makes it nearly impossible to hack. As of today, one bitcoin equals $7,659.71.

You can see why folks are “bullish” on the potential for bitcoin. Quarterback Matt Barkley was denied his request both in 2017 (49ers) and 2018 (Bengals). But what if a marquee free agent demanded to be paid in bitcoin? The extent that NFL teams are willing to go in order to land franchise players would certainly make for an intriguing story. Los Angeles Chargers offensive lineman Russell Okung apparently wants to be paid in bitcoin too and would like to see that headline scroll across the bottom of ESPN.

Bitcoin isn’t new; it’s been around since 2009, a decade in the making. So why hasn’t bitcoin caught on yet? The value of the currency is volatile, which does incur high risk, such as this fraudulent investment by former NFL running back Darren McFadden, which cost him $237 millionMore recently, former Minnesota Vikings stakeholder Reginald Fowler, who was originally named as one of the Alliance of American Football league’s bigger investors,was tied to this $850M crypto mysteryCases like these certainly highlight the volatility in bitcoin and make it easy to see why the currency has yet to reach mainstream status.

Still, crypto believers will be paying close attention to others who have gone ‘all in’ on bitcoin such as San Francisco 49ers cornerback Richard Sherman, who began accepting bitcoin in exchange for merchandise on his website in 2014. Sherman contends that crypto currency is a hot topic in NFL locker rooms.

While there will be plenty of those on opposite ends of the spectrum in terms of how they view bitcoin, one must wonder how long is it until a mega superstar hits the open market and demands from his agent, “Show me the bitcoin!”

The summer is about to begin and we have the must-attend technology events that are sure to heat up, check out our list here. Remember, check out our premium site InsideTheLeague.com for the latest in NFL scout hiring and firing, agent insider news and industry-related updates.

 

Sports Tech with Ric Serritella: Mark Your Calendar for These Events

Here at Succeed In Football, our focus is on helping you advance in the sports industry by keeping you up to date with the latest tech trends and news. Today, we highlight a few upcoming sports tech events around the country that offer up a tremendous amount of cutting-edge value.

49ers/SportTechie NEXT at Levi Stadium — Bay Area, CA  (June 6-7): The San Francisco 49ers and SportTechie are teaming up to present an excellent sports business, technology and analytics conference. The conference brings together executives and thought leaders to discuss and present the most important trends and events shaping the industry. The Horizon Summit provides a platform for leagues, teams, corporate partners, vendors, innovators and investors to come together to share ideas, experiences and outlooks. By encouraging learning across key themes and trends, they ensure you will remain at the forefront of your industry and be prepared for what is approaching on the horizon. Tickets are expected to sell out, but you can reserve a spot here.

LiveWorx19 in Boston (June 10-13): This four-day event features keynote speakers from various industries but football tech junkies will be interested to know that Michelle McKenna, the Senior Vice President and Chief Information Officer of the NFL, will be speaking June 12. McKenna, who oversees the organization’s technology strategy and shared service delivery, will discuss how she is “quarterbacking” a digital revolution for the NFL with an “augmented workforce.” McKenna will also introduce a new set of technological capabilities that integrate with human skills and expertise on how to enable workers to become “human+” in order to help organizations thrive. Over 2,000 companies, 9,500-plus attendees and 500-plus speakers are scheduled to appear at LiveWorx. For more information on this event, visit here.

Sports Techie & NFLPA – Accelerating Change: Sports Tech & Innovation in Washington, D.C. (July 16): During MLB All-Star Week in Washington, D.C., the NFL Players Association and SportTechie present an exclusive, invitation-only event that brings together sports industry executives and thought leaders for an evening of discussion on sports technology and innovation. Spots are limited to this invite-only event. For more information on how to register, visit the website.

Sports Video Group (SVG) OTT Forum in New York City (July 25): Over-the-top distribution and direct-to-consumer live-streaming packages are poised to dramatically change the world of live sports video. While the entire media ecosystem is approaching this new era of consumer behavior, the sports media industry faces its own unique set of challenges and opportunities. SVG will have its second-annual SVG Sports OTT Forum to be held July 25 at NYIT in New York City. To register for this event, click here.

Remember, there are numerous ways to advance your career in the sports industry, which include adapting to new technology, learning innovative strategies and expanding your network. The aforementioned events will help you achieve all of those.

And don’t forget! If you aspire to work in football and are looking for an edge, subscribe to our premium insider content at Inside the League at $30/mo, or sign up for our free weekly look at what’s happening in the college and pro football industry, the Friday Wrap, here. You can read last week’s edition here.

Sports Tech with Ric Serritella: Madden Heralds eSport Arrival

Each week Ric Serritella provides a glimpse into the latest trends and topics in sports technology, with a look at how they are impacting the football industry. 

Want to work in football, but you’re having trouble breaking into the biz? Maybe you’re a video game aficionado? Well, the E-sports Generation has arrived and may have a place for you.

The eSports business is one of the fastest-growing industries in the world, and it has now officially penetrated the NFL market due to the popularity of Madden Football.

In a recent press release, EA Sports announced that Madden NFL 19 Bowl smashed all previous viewing records, generating 2.5 million views (an 850% increase from last year) on its video stream, hosted by Twitch. In addition, 805,000 people tuned in to watch the one-hour special championship game broadcast on ESPN2. Combined, the two broadcasts averaged 208,000 viewers per minute during the final hour. These are staggering numbers.

The Madden NFL 19 Bowl winner, Drini Gjoka, has now earned nearly $200,000 in career winnings from playing Madden. Not bad for a day job. With the recent boom in interest, you can be sure that new content, sponsors and jobs are on the way. However, this is just the beginning for the eSports platform, which is still in its infancy and has yet to even begin to scratch the surface of its revenue potential.

In other Madden-related news, EA wasted little time capitalizing on the mania by announcing its weekly Madden 20 live-stream and blog. Career mode now features the “Face of the Franchise: QB1 Career Campaign.”

It sounds like a Madden lifer’s dream come true as users create themselves as a quarterback (including face editing) and begin their career at the college ranks. They then go on to choose a school and try to lead a team to a national championship. Once college wraps up, it’s time for the draft process as the user-generated quarterbacks then compete in the combine. How well a player performs dictates draft status.

It’s a long way from our recollection of the original Madden Football, as the brand has become much larger than anyone could’ve possibly imagined.

Kyler Has New Teammate in LeBron: In other video news to emerge from draft week, it was announced that No.1 overall selection Kyler Murray of the Arizona Cardinals has inked a two-year partnership with Uninterrupted, the media production owned by LeBron James. The deal includes Murray providing access for videos to be posted on social media and a feature-length documentary.

“As thrilling as it is to be beginning my career as a NFL player, I also want to be an example early on for all athletes and show that our value extends beyond the field of play,” Murray said in a statement. “Uninterrupted is changing the culture for athletes in our society by empowering them to be more than an athlete.” You can learn more about the project here.

*Do you work in football and want to be in the know? Visit our premium site at InsideTheLeague.comand get an edge on the competition with our insider news and analysis!

 

 

Sports Tech with Ric Serritella: Tech Takes Fans Inside NFL War Rooms

From high-fives to excited chatter to intense silence, the atmosphere inside war rooms around the league varies from team-to-team over NFL Draft weekend. As fans satisfy their passion with fantasy football, interactive leagues and innovative stadiums, there’s one fence left to scale: access to the decision-makers as they make the decisions.

Slowly, even that wall is coming down. Due to the evolution of video cameras, smart phones and live-stream technology, television broadcasts are able to capture unique sports moments like we’ve never seen before, and the curious fan can now relive some of the draft’s biggest moments. Here are some of the cooler portals to insider-level draft coverage floating around the internet.

  • With The Next Pick: This five-part docu-series takes you on the road with the Indianapolis Colts leading up to the draft. However, the most riveting part is Episode 5, which features the team’s braintrust making its three second-round selections. Fans watch as the team’s staff members realize Stanford linebacker Bobby Okereke is still on the board, and their excitement as they prepare to select him. Getting a chance to see NFL executives react this way is rare and refreshing. You can watch it here. Also, in case you missed it, the Colts were recently presented the 2018 Inside The League Best Draft Award.
  • Different team, different view: On the opposite end of the spectrum are the New England Patriots, who were clearly all business inside their war room. This clip posted by the team on YouTube provides a glimpse into how the Patriots operate. There was little excitement amongst the staff as head coach Bill Belichick placed the call to Michigan edge rusher Chase Winovich letting him know that the team would take him in the third round. You can almost envision Belichick after the call as he icily moved on to the next pick. It’s an interesting contrast with the Colts.
  • A View of the Big Blue: The Giants once again provided fans with an inside look at the draft process as they provided on-camera access to key decision-makers at the Senior Bowl, NFL Combine and inside team headquarters for the draft. You can now re-live the moments that may ring in a new era at the Meadowlands here.

For more insight on the business of football, including key trends in the agent and scouting industry as well as ways to break into the football business, visit Inside the League.

Kinda limited on your budget? No problem. Sign up for our weekly newsletter, the Friday Wrap, where we hit the highlights and take a unique look at the 2019 NFL Draft. You can register here. You can check out last week’s edition of the Friday Wrap here.

Sports Tech with Ric Serritella: Investing in Innovation

Though it’s draft weekend, there’s plenty of football business being conducted in places other than Nashville. Here’s a look at what’s going on in the modern game, courtesy of the Football Tech guy, Ric Serritella of NFL Draft Bible.

Bills buff up their facility: Buffalo signed nearly 20 free agents during the offseason, including one of the top centers in the league in Mitch Morse, one of the top deep threats on the market in WO John Brown, and a possible future Hall of Famer in running back Frank Gore. Why such an uptick?

One reason the team believes it has been able to attract top free agents is its sparkling new, state-of-the-art, training facility, which spans 41,000 square feet. It’s more than double the size of their old practice facility (18,000 square feet).

“Buffalo (expletives) on Dallas,” tweeted newly signed free agent WO Cole Beasley on his Twitter account, which has since been deleted. “Facilities for recovery and training are top notch!”

If you’re wondering what makes the facility so special, you probably guessed it: technology. Individualized player care is viewed as an important factor by many players when signing with a new team. After conducting expanded research on the best methods, Buffalo has enhanced its sports science and medical department, which team officials believe is tops in the league.

Designed by Populous, a worldwide architectural design company, the building includes luxurious features such as sleep pods, float tanks, a yoga studio, and massage rooms, according to bdcnetwork.com.

“I think it’s a game-changer for us,” General Manager Brandon Beane told The Buffalo News. “This is the one thing that we didn’t have that was top-level, and we went from probably below-average to the best — I think clearly the best.”

As more teams look to recruit big-name free agents who hit the market, look for many to follow suit by upgrading their training facilities.

Seahawks simplify CenturyLink sales: From training facilities to in-game stadium experiences, the Seattle Seahawks have been at the forefront of biometric technology. When NFL attendance dipped from 17.8 million in 2016 to 17.2 million in 2017, Seattle wanted to create ways to enhance the game-day experience for fans and make attending a game a much smoother process.

With the emergence of bigger and better flat-screen TVs, the popularity of social media and the increase of access to games streamed online, it has become increasingly challenging to give fans reason to come out to the stadium. Last season, the Seahawks became the first NFL franchise to employ biometric solutions.

The technology allows for an easier, faster check-in process getting through the gates when arriving to the stadium due to their ability to authenticate tickets. Lines at the beer concessions have sped up, as they can quickly verify a person’s age and get fans back to their seat faster so they don’t miss much of the game action. While CenturyLink Field was the first venue to adopt such technology, other stadiums have already followed suit, and in a few years, this will likely be standard procedure in venues across America.

For more news and current events across the football landscape, be sure to join Inside The League, the premier online destination for NFL agent and football insider information!