The NFL's New Mic'd Up App Is a PR Nightmare Waiting to Happen

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The NFL is making efforts to improve the live experience of seeing a professional football game, but one of their big ideas is to make an app that lets you listen to players hooked up with microphones on the field. Does this seem like an obviously bad idea to anyone else? 

The NFL, in effect, already does this. Player are "mic'd up" during a game, but the audio is only made available to broadcast networks and NFL Films. They're given time to edit out anything they might find offensive, and pick and choose what audio makes it to the broadcast. 

But the new app will "place microphones on certain players so that fans can hear on-field commentary via an in-the-work app that would distribute raw feeds," according to the Wall Street Journal

We know swearing is so passé now that even the New Yorker is down with dropping a few F-bombs, and even the SCOTUS decided swearing spontaneously is a-okay, but we're talking about hyper-competitive, 250+ pound wrecking machines trash talking to get into each other's head and attempting to physically maim opposing players. If we've learned anything from HBO's 24/7 series, it's that athletes curse a lot. Or, hockey players do at least. But it's not a big stretch of ol' imagination to picture Ray Lewis letting off a loud "F---!" after a play doesn't go his way, or someone else makes an inappropriate comment, maybe a rape joke, that lands the league in hot water

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The mics will only be going on "select players," which likely means star players who'll get the riot act read to them before the mic is ever plugged in. But it's only a matter of time before the wrong guy slips up, maybe the tension of a playoff game gets to him, and he makes the wrong joke or says the wrong thing. You think Deadspin isn't licking their lips at the prospect of Rob Gronkowski saying something he'll come to regret on the field? 

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.