The Tampa Bay Buccaneers announced a partnership on Monday with EON Sports VR and will implement the company’s virtual reality teaching tool to help rookie Jameis Winston adjust to the rigors and challenges inherent to the NFL game when training camp kicks off for the team on Aug. 1.
Called Sidekiq, the football-simulator software developed by the company simulates game conditions by utilizing customizable computer-generated graphics that replicate game or practice conditions from the same perspective as the player previously encountered, according to an ESPN report.
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“We are excited to be coming in on the front end of this new wave of technology that is designed to supplement the on-field and classroom work that our quarterbacks are already doing,” general manager Jason Licht told ESPN’s Pat Yasinskas. “Obviously, there is no real substitute for being on the field when it comes to getting our players ready for game action. However, this virtual-reality technology allows us to enhance the learning experience for our quarterbacks without requiring them to put in additional time on the practice fields.”
The Buccaneers join the Dallas Cowboys as NFL teams on the forefront in attempting to utilize the budding technology, a movement already embraced at the college and high school level.
“Virtual reality has become very popular in high school and college programs, and there has recently been much more interest in the technology from professional sports teams looking to add to their teaching tools while limiting exposure to injuries that may occur in live-action situations,” EON Sports VR CEO Brendan Reilly said. “We are excited to get to work with the Buccaneers and provide their quarterbacks with the opportunity to train more efficiently than ever before.”
The technology employed by Sidekiq obviously is in its very earliest stages of development and while it may now serve as a complimentary teaching and learning tool, one can only imagine the potential and possibilities once the software is further enhanced and perfected. And given the difficult transition quarterbacks must endure while making the substantial leap from the college to the pro ranks, anything that can help make it even a bit easier for Winston certainly can’t hurt.