As far as NFL scandals go, the Colts allegedly using illegal hearing aids was pretty benign. And now, as more information surfaces, it appears there may be nothing scandalous nothing at all.
Florio’s article was based on a quote from former Colts offensive tackle Tarik Glenn, who said in an interview with Clifton Brown of the Indianapolis Star that the Colts had special hearing aids for playing in loud stadiums.
“We were playing on the road, it might have been Peyton’s rookie year, and it was really loud,” Glenn said. “Peyton (Manning) hadn’t mastered the silent count, so (former offensive line coach) Howard Mudd had us wearing these hearing aids that were supposed to muffle the crowd while projecting the quarterback’s voice.”
As Florio notes, NFL rules prohibit players from using electronic hearing devices. Only the quarterback (and one defensive player) is permitted to wear a helmet with a speaker in it.
But the Colts weren’t transmitting play calls to their offensive linemen. At most, they were seeking to help their linemen better hear the quarterback.
And upon further scrutiny, it seems Glenn might not have revealed anything scandalous at all.
It’s possible, if not likely, that Glenn is using the term “hearing aid” to describe non-electronic earplugs. These would help dull the roar of a loud crowd and are seemingly permitted under the NFL’s current rules (though no passage in the rule book that specifically mentions earplugs can be found).
Favre openly shared this information with Saints head coach Sean Payton, who later had Drew Brees and other Saints players wear earplugs for a noisy road playoff game against the Seattle Seahawks.
Payton told Salters that the Saints “love them” – probably not something a coach would say if he were circumventing the rules.
In neither instance did the NFL punish the teams using earplugs. Probably because they aren’t illegal.
It’s unlikely the NFL will waste any time investigating whether the Colts used illegal hearing aids, as there remains no evidence that they did.
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