Chalk Talk Podcast Episode #7: NFL Legend and Football Operations Executive, Troy Vincent, Says Data Will Change What Players, Coaches, Officials and Scouts Do This Season. Find Out How.

As the NFL works to balance tradition with innovation, data is proving core to every decision made in the back office and on the field. This is what to expect, whether you’re an NFL hopeful or just a fan.

Chalk Talk with Zebra`s Adam Petrus and Hale Hentges along with NFL Legend Troy Vincent
by Adam Petrus
August 17, 2022

Are you ready for some football?! Troy Vincent sure is. As a former NFL player and the current Executive Vice President of Football Operations at the NFL, this is always an exciting time of year. New players, new coaches, and new energy abound! And, thanks to the rich data being generated by RFID technology during every practice, game and equipment check, a whole new mindset about the game of football is taking hold. In fact, that may be what Troy is most pumped about as he preps for what will surely be a memorable season.

His Operations team has a mission: ensure football is the greatest competitive sport in the world and the NFL is the greatest league. They can’t accomplish that mission using hearsay and best guesses about what’s happening behind the scenes at clubs or on the field during games. So, the people responsible for improving game operations, officiating, player operations and the NFL’s overall business strategy aren’t making a move – or a policy change – without consulting the data derived from Zebra’s RFID on-field player tracking technology. And those on the front lines of the game – players, coaches, and officials – are learning to lean into data to make better decisions, whether about training, play calls or rulings.

That’s why Troy can’t talk enough about the value of RFID technology and, specifically, the advantage it now gives every NFL stakeholder.

In our latest Chalk Talk episode, we spent 30 minutes with Troy chatting about:

  • How much the game has changed since Troy played thanks to the NFL’s commitment to technology innovation. (Let’s put it this way, when Troy was a player, he was carrying a beeper. Not a cell phone, and certainly not a ball with an RFID tag in it. A beeper.)
  • How the NFL Operations team actually works – and how the back-office is uniquely structured. (As someone who has been around the NFL for years, I was surprised to learn about the four different operational focuses that Troy and his team have. My co-host, Hale Hentges, also learned a lot – and he’s a true “insider” as a former NFL player.)
  • How everyone in the NFL has spent the offseason learning how to responsibly utilize the rich data they have available to them. (Wise coaches are looking at the data every day, and in new ways, Troy says.)
  • How the decades-long effort that coaches have made to improve player health and safety is coming to fruition thanks to player tracking technology – and how the NFL has been able to prioritize wellness without compromising the quality of the game.
  • Why it’s important for players to embrace the data delivered via RFID tracking technology if they want to extend their careers – maybe even longer than Tom Brady – and improve their video game rankings.
  • How real-time location data will help officials better manage games and reduce their own game-day injuries starting this season.
  • How the in-stadium experience may be changing in the next season or two.
  • How the use of technology is bleeding over to college football all-star games and the NFL Combine – and how that will impact the NFL Draft of the future. (Spoiler alert: The way NFL coaches and recruiters evaluate college players may be different going forward based on what data is telling us today.)
  • How the NFL plans to incorporate other technology into the game this season – and whether a digital down box might be spotted on the sidelines.

We also spent a few minutes catching up on Troy’s personal joys, such as his six (!) grandkids and the life-changing programs he’s working on with his wife, Tommi, as part of their Vincent Country charity, including the next Safe Zone Activity Day in Arizona, to coincide with Super Bowl LVII in February 2023.

Hale and I always learn so much when we catch up with Troy, so we’re excited to be able to share our conversation with you. 


Adam Petrus
Adam Petrus is currently the Client Services Project Manager within Zebra Sports at Zebra Technologies where he is responsible for co-managing the game day operation of the NFL’s Next Gen Stats program. Adam has more than 10 years of experience within the sports and technology industry and has been working with Next Gen Stats since 2015. Previously, he worked in the front office of an NFL Football Club and then the United States Intelligence Community supporting business operations.
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