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Giants’ use of walkie-talkies to call in plays is questioned. Over.



At some point early in the fourth quarter of the Dallas Cowboys loss to the New York Giants on Sunday night at The Meadowlands, the headset communication device between quarterback Eli Manning and head coach Ben McAdoo stopped working. McAdoo then begins using a two-way hand radio to, apparently, deliver plays to Manning. There’s no disputing this took place, and the Cowboys aren’t charging that their loss was the direct result of the non-standard use of the walkie-talkie.

Update 12/18: The Giants reportedly will be fined for the infraction. On the Sunday pregame shows, Jason LaCanfora said on CBS that it is a “modest fine,” and Fox’s Jay Glazer characterized it as a “significant fine.”

Update 12/20: Adam Schefter is reporting (below) that the Giants were fined $150,000 and McAdoo $50,000, and the Giants 2017 fourth-round pick will be moved to the end of the round after compensatory picks. Although the walkie-talkie that was used was capable of reaching the quarterback’s helmet receiver, this use was not approved by Football Operations.

What the Cowboys are charging, however, is that the use of the walkie-talkie occurred with less than 15 seconds remaining on the play clock, which could’ve given the Giants an advantage. The NFL has strict policies in place regarding coach-to-quarterback communication that a member of the Football Operations staff, called the cutoff switch operator, has the responsibility to disable the line of communication via headset between the coach and quarterback when there are 15 seconds or less on the clock. Herein lies the issue, if the coach is using a replacement device like, say, a walkie-talkie, the operator is unable to end that communication.

Football Operations manages the complex operation surrounding the radio frequencies of the game, including TV wireless mics and intercoms to ensure there’s no radio interference. The use of the walkie-talkie does not happen without the permission of Football Ops. The walkie-talkie that was used is apparently one that is assigned to the backup quarterback on the sidelines, which keeps him informed of the play calls if he is later needed.

A more obscure, yet seemingly legitimate rule in play here, is the rarely mentioned “equity rule.” In this instance, if a coach’s headset doesn’t work (in terms of coach-to-coach communication) on one sideline, the other sideline has to remove their headsets until the problem is resolved. However, the equity rule rule does not apply to the coach-to-quarterback communication. So when the coach-to-quarterback communication went down for the Giants, the Cowboys weren’t required to stop using theirs.

At this point, though the NFL has begun their own investigation into the matter, the Cowboys will not confirm whether or not they’ve contacted the league office, of if the league office has contacted them.

Image: New York Giants photo

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