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With crowd noise a bigger problem than ever in the NFL this season, Tex Schramm, the head of the league's competition committee, says there is a new movement to adopt the space-age transmitter helmets that were tested in two preseason games.
The transmitters, operated on the sideline by a representative of the Telex Communications Inc. helmet company, are used only by the offensive unit and are turned on from the point the team breaks the huddle until the ball is snapped. The quarterback talks through a microphone in his face mask and his on-field teammates hear him on receivers in their helmets. However, the helmets are currently back on the drawing board because the signals in the Dallas-Houston exhibition were interrupted by reports from local hospital and police radios.
Art Modell, the Cleveland Browns' owner, was once against the helmets because, he said, they took away the human element of the game. But his Browns—especially rookie quarterback Bernie Kosar—have been flustered by crowd noise in Dallas, Pittsburgh and their own Cleveland Stadium.
"Crowd noise is the worst I've ever heard," Modell says. "Fans are not entitled to affect the outcome of the game; they're entitled to watch it. There has been a lack of consistency with how the officials deal with the noise problem. We may have to adopt college rules and charge the home team with a timeout if it doesn't quiet the crowd. Or we'll have to adopt the helmets." The total cost, leaguewide, is estimated at $750,000.
Modell sees another plus for the helmets: "I believe they'd save as much as 12 minutes a game."
Why should college players be paid?
?The Lions' Billy Sims, who has testified in court that he accepted a $10,000 loan from agent Mike Trope while still an undergrad: "I was hurting. It's still a business, no way around it." Sims says recruitment of undergrads by agents would stop if the NCAA allowed athletes to be paid.
?The Eagles' Steve Kenney: "College football players are slave labor. College administrators are a bunch of hypocrites. If it's really amateur athletics, let everybody in the gate free. When I get out [of the NFL], I'm forming a union for college athletes."