More than ever before, technology will be center stage during next week’s NFL Draft, which will commence a week from today. And more than ever before, security risks are a very real concern that are shared throughout the league.
The Pittsburgh Steelers are not exactly immune to paranoia. At different times in the past, head coach Mike Tomlin has made allusions to the New England Patriots regarding possible interference; has talked about the possible use of drones to spy on practices; and has put up large curtains in their practice facility to serve as a barrier against prying eyes.
This year, teams will not be allowed access to their own facilities, thanks to the ongoing pandemic. General managers will be responsible for making the selections for their own teams, and they will be doing so in isolation from their own homes, so they will need open lines of communication with other members of the organization.
Said Baltimore Ravens head coach John Harbaugh about potential security issues, “it’s a big concern. Hopefully we’ll be OK. I really wouldn’t want the opposing coaches to have our playbook or our draft meetings. That would be preferable, if we can stay away from that”.
This comes amid reports about the widely-used online video messaging software Zoom and the security compromises that they have faced as millions of people around the country begin working from home, and thus relying upon such resources.
It’s one thing to spy in on some random draft meeting, but another entirely to tap into the communications of the general manager on draft day. Under normal circumstances, they would be in a closed room—albeit with a muted video feed for the broadcast—with everyone that they need to speak to already in the room. Now, technology is a critical component of the communication chain, and any of it could be intercepted.
As Adam Schefter said, it’s not just Harbaugh who is worried, but rather personnel from around the league, about potential security breaches. Harbaugh is only the most prominent among those team officials who have so far spoken publicly about those concerns.
One has to wonder what kind of security protocols the NFL may be looking to put in place in order to address the concerns that teams have about possible interference, because evidently enough teams don’t trust each other to just go through the process on the honor system.