During the past year, National Football League saw an innovative and out-of-the-box solution to the concussion problems of the football players. The MVP or the mobile virtual player is the brainchild of coach Buddy Teevens of Dartmouth College who first realized the implications of friendly tackling in practice matches of NFL. The results of introducing the MVP in the practice sessions of the teams has exponentially decreased the head injury cases as well as led to an increase in the team performances and compatibility.
The challenge of a massive number of injuries, especially head injuries and concussions, in the NFL troupes had been haunting the coaches as well as the players for quite a while. Due to the deteriorating image of NFL teams towards the health and care of its players, Coach Teevens of Dartmouth introduced a no-tackling policy in 2010. He ensured that no Dartmouth player would ever tackle another Dartmouth player in practice matches. The only tackling to be done was on the day of the match. His policy led to stellar results. The players were less tired, less sore and much healthier. They could practice longer and eventually went on to become the Ivy League champions. Experiencing such amazing results sparked the idea of a non-human tackling buddy in Coach Teevens’ mind. He challenged his engineering players to design an effective, mobile, remotely controlled device that could successfully simulate human tackling. In August 2015, the MVP made a debut at the team’s practice camp.
The Mobile Virtual Player is a self-righting training device. It is designed according to the build of an average NFL player, standing at about 5’8” and weighing over 180 pounds. The device is powered by a motor and can be controlled remotely. By simulating human actions, it can serve the purpose of an opposition player without including another human into the equation. It provides the players with an opportunity to practice tackling drills in conditions which were earlier highly unsafe or even impossible. The MVP takes player-to-player and helmet-to-helmet contact out of the equation for dynamic practice drills.
The MVP was successfully designed by four engineering students of Dartmouth College, leading among them being Elliot Castner and Quinn Connell. After a roller-coaster of events in the conceptualization, design, and manufacturing of the MVP, it was finally released for beta testing within NFL teams in 2016. With the increase in popularity and its incredible performance, the MVP has gained admiration with not just the big leagues but with smaller teams as well; such as the Holy Name High. “I think it’s a wonderful addition to your team,” said Coach Romeo of Holy Name. “It gives you the ability to hit without beating one another up. It has a realistic feel to it. It moves really well. Kids can’t just run up and hit it like a dry bag. It really gives them open-field pursuit angles.”
With concussions being a big issue in football and parents withdrawing their children from the game due to its security concerns, MVP comes as a breath of relief to those who still cherish the game. Passionate players can now practice better with lesser injuries and healthier bodies. Moreover, with acceptance from giants like Cowboys, Notre Dame, Pittsburgh Steelers, LA Rams etc., the MVP is bound to revolutionize the modern NFL scene.