I couldn’t help but notice that there were some brand new info-graphics and visual effects during NFL games this year. The NFL introduced the “green zone,” a new info-graphic with an on-the-field skill position deck, and a handful of other new interactive visuals.
The green zone has not only been publicly criticized, but it has also been meme’d (see below). My initial reaction to the green zone was that the rest of the field looked incredibly faded and the players almost looked like they had been overlaid on a green screen. The yellow first-down and blue line-of-scrimmage markers worked just fine. The NFL is understandably trying to make the at-home game experience as interactive as possible, but there comes a point where it becomes more of a distraction and takes away from the experience.
Another screen effect that has become much more frequent in NFL game broadcasts is the use of the yellow sketch line that commentators utilize typically during replays. Tony Romo practically predicts and draws the plays before they happen in real time. Yes, the man knows his football, but turning the live game into a showcase of his football IQ is unnecessary. His title after all is commentator, not predictor. Maybe the issue stems from the void in his heart were a Super Bowl title should be. Maybe Romo feels like he still needs to prove his abilities before he becomes eligible for the Hall of Fame. Regardless of the reason, it needs to stop.
One aspect of the NFL’s technology integration experiment that has actually made the game more interesting is the Intel 360-degree highlight replay. Watching AJ Green or Corey Davis make ridiculous top-10 caliber catches has never felt more real.
Unfortunately, the NFL has also increased use of the SkyCam quarterback angle, again making the game more video game-like. A handful of games have even included two SkyCams. Don’t get me wrong, the SkyCam is great, especially during heavily raining or foggy games when visibility becomes less clear, but anything more than the occasional pre-snap quarterback angle makes the real game feel like a Madden stream.
This season, the NFL visuals and graphics team has been leaving it all out on the field and trying their hardest week in and week out, and I can respect that. Their execution, on the other hand, definitely needs work.