New York Giants head coach Joe Judge has promised never to discuss headset and communication issues again, but that doesn’t mean the rest of the league won’t.
Judge made waves following a Week 8 loss to the Kansas City Chiefs when he blamed poor clock management on communication issues. He then claimed it had been a problem in every game, city and stadium this season.
“The headsets were going out,” Judge told reporters after a 20-17 loss to the Kansas City Chiefs. “We are having headset issues. This has happened in every game so far. We deal with the league and they keep telling us there are different software updates or whatever it is, but we had to call two timeouts today because we were trying to send the deals in personnel wise and you got half of the headsets not getting reception.”
The NFL was quick to dismiss Judge’s claims, releasing a statement saying they found no issues with the team’s headsets. They also said there had been no contact with the Giants throughout the Week 8 game.
“We are looking into the matter with all involved parties; however, we are confident that nothing is attributable to the Bose headset,” the NFL said in a statement. “We have not been able to identify an issue in last night’s game with the Giants’ communication system.
“We were not made aware of any issues during the game from the club through our standard communication channels that are used to identify gameday issues.”
Judge refuted that statement and said they had been in contact with the league. But with HeadsetGate spiraling out of control and the optics not looking good for the Giants, Judge said he wasn’t an excuse maker and would no longer discuss the communication issues.
To his credit, Judge stayed true to his word and buttoned his lips. He offered no update on the headsets or communication issues and has skirted any questions about it.
However, there now appears to be some substance to Judge’s claims.
Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports reports that several NFL teams and head coaches have been experiencing sideline communication issues this season. The problems are being blamed on the league’s new “belt pack” system with the NFL claiming the issues are all “user-error.”
Team and league sources said there have been numerous instances of issues with this new system and something the NFL continues to troubleshoot.
The league is using a different model for coach-to-coach and official-to-official communication this season, and it has not been without its issues. In many cases there have been difficulties within some coaching staffs to adapting to the new system, which has prompted significant issues on game day due to “user-error,” sources said.
The NFL has sent specialists to work with and train the Giants’ staff on the new system(s). But with the issues persisting, Judge lashed out publicly. And when he said, “whatever the issue with that is, the people involved better get it fixed fast,” he was apparently talking about the NFL’s IT folks and not his own.
One league source told La Canfora that the issue is not a Judge-specific one, he just happens to be the coach who chose to be vocal about it.
Several coaching sources said the new game day belt packs have antennas that attach to frequencies or wireless locations that seem to short out or fail to stay connected, which disrupts their ability to communicate with their staff. “This is pretty widespread,” said one NFL source who has discussed the matter with several head coaches. “It’s not just a Joe Judge thing.” Another coaching source said: “The new belt packs are an issue.”
The communication issues are said to be more “widespread” than in previous years as coaches and staff adapt to new technologies.
Even in light of this new report and the league’s essential admission, do not expect Judge to rekindle HeadsetGate. He’s said his piece and he will almost certainly leave it at that.