How Are NFL Football Players Mic’d Up

If you are as old as me, you’ll remember the early days of NFL Films. They represented the beginning of what would be the new way to watch football, to hear the grunts and groans along with hits made you feel like you were there with the players being Mic’d up it’s even more personal. Are NFL Football Players Miked Up?

  • NFL players are mic’d up in shoulder pads/helmets
  • Mics are attached to ensure it stays in place
  • Quarterbacks have mics in helmets
  • Mics use clear audio to cut interference
  • Technology enhance experience
  • Mics are designed for player comfort & safety
  • Coaches use headsets
  • League governs usage to maintain fairness

NFL Films owned by Ed Sabol and then his son Steve Sabol pioneered the use of in-game audio, and the league had long clipped a microphone to the umpire’s cap to capture the snap count. Before the 2010 season, though, the ump’s position on most plays shifted from the middle of the defense to well behind the offense for safety reasons.


How Are NFL Football Players Mic’d Up


NFL football players are typically mic’d up by embedding a small microphone within their shoulder pads or uniform. The microphone is securely attached to the player’s gear to ensure it stays in place during the game. Additionally, some players, particularly quarterbacks, may have a microphone integrated into their helmet for direct communication with coaches and teammates. The mic ‘d-up equipment is carefully designed to capture clear audio while minimizing interference and discomfort for the player. This technology allows for captivating audio recordings that enhance the viewer experience during broadcasts and provide valuable insights into on-field communication and strategy.


Green Dot on Football Helmet


The green dot communication system is primarily used in the NFL (National Football League) and some college football programs. It enhances communication efficiency between the coaching staff and players, particularly quarterbacks on offense. Here are some additional points about the green dot system:

Quarterback Communication: The primary purpose of the green dot system is to facilitate communication between the coaching staff and the quarterback on the field. This allows for quick play calls, adjustments, and strategy discussions without the need for the quarterback to leave the field or rely on hand signals.

Best of Players Mic'd Up 2020 Season | NFL Films Presents - YouTube
How Are NFL Football Players Mic’d Up

Helmet-Mounted Device: The communication device is typically installed inside the quarterback’s helmet. It consists of a small speaker and microphone, allowing the quarterback to hear instructions from coaches and respond if necessary.

Designation of Players: Only one defensive player and one offensive player (usually the quarterback) can have the green dot on their helmet at any given time. This designation signifies that they are the primary point of contact for communication with the coaching staff.

League Rules: The use of communication devices in helmets, including the green dot system, is governed by league rules. These rules specify the permissible technology, frequency of usage, and other related regulations to maintain fairness and integrity in the game.

Advantages: The green dot system provides several advantages, including the ability to relay complex play calls, make real-time adjustments based on the opposing team’s defense, and maintain the secrecy of strategies without the need for hand signals or sideline discussions.

Technology Evolution: Over time, the technology used in communication devices has evolved, becoming more sophisticated and reliable. Modern systems offer clearer audio, better noise cancellation, and improved durability to withstand the physical demands of football.

Training and Familiarization: Quarterbacks and other players designated with the green dot undergo training to familiarize themselves with the communication system. This includes learning the terminology used by coaches, understanding the signals, and practicing efficient communication during game situations.

Overall, the green dot system enhances communication efficiency and strategic coordination on the football field, contributing to the competitiveness and excitement of the game. All audio/video equipment on the field is controlled by the NFL and says that one player from the Offense which is usually the Quarterback has a radio receiver or a One-Way radio to hear play calls from coaches off the field.   This is the same for one Defense player for the same reason.

The coach on the sideline will motion to the player that a play is coming in. Along with those 2 players, the Offensive Center often has a mic taped on his shoulder pads or his back.   This sound is sent straight to the TV networks. This is why you can hear the Quarterback  “count” on TV, or hear funny things like “Omahaaa Omaaahaaaa,” lastly, on several plays, a few “big-name” players will have mics taped on their shoulder pads.   This is not played on the live broadcast, but the NFL uses these for post-game YouTube videos and DVDs.

This is big business for the NFL which is why they do it to bring the fans closer to the action of the game. The quarterback’s earpiece shuts off with 15 seconds left on the play clock or the ball is snapped whichever comes first.  This is done by an NFL official and is not in the hands of the coaches.  

The radio remains off until the play is dead and the play clock for the next play resumes.  As such, coaches cannot continue to relay messages, defensive reads, or any other further information in those last 15 seconds.

Only one player on offense (the QB) and one on defense (often the middle linebacker) are allowed earpieces in their helmets;  the player that is designated or wired with audio equipment is designated with a green dot the size of a quarter on the back of their helmet. The green dot is on three helmets.

  1. The primary player gets two green dots.
  2. One of his game helmets and one on a backup helmet.
  3. The alternate has a green dot only on his backup helmet. The backup helmets are kept in a locked case behind the players’ benches. If needed, one of the officials will retrieve a helmet from the case. The teams (coaches and players) do not have access to that case.


Where On The Body Are Football Players Mic’d Up


In football, players are typically mic’d up by placing a microphone within their shoulder pads or uniform. The exact placement can vary depending on the player’s position and personal preference. However, common locations for mic’ing up football players include:

  1. Shoulder Pads: Many football players have a small microphone embedded within their shoulder pads. This placement offers good sound quality while minimizing interference and discomfort for the player.

  2. Jersey: Some players may have a microphone attached to their jersey, usually near the collar area. This location is convenient and provides clear audio while remaining relatively inconspicuous.

  3. NFL fans are only just realizing why players have microphones in their  helmets - The Mirror US
    Where On The Body Are Football Players Mic’d Up

    Helmet: In addition to the green dot communication system discussed earlier, some players, particularly quarterbacks, may have a microphone integrated into their helmet. This allows for direct communication with coaches and teammates during the game.

  4. Belt or Waistband: Occasionally, players may have a microphone clipped onto their belt or waistband. While less common than other placements, this location can still provide adequate audio capture.

Overall, the goal of mic’ing up football players is to capture on-field audio for television broadcasts, documentaries, and coaching analysis while minimizing interference with the player’s performance and safety gear.

After much experimentation and during a bunch of exhibition games, NFL officials decided to put a microphone on the back of the pads of two players for each team either the first- and second-string centers or both starting guards. NFL Engineers working in the booth turn on 1 microphone just as the Offence breaks the huddle.

Then they shut it down as the ball is snapped. The audio is mixed is sent to the TV truck where the network mixes it with the crowd noise. In other words, it was kinda fabricated. Technology improves every year as the stereo sound became surround sound and could direct the sound all around the image on the TV and make it even more realistic almost like being there. The audio now is dependent even more so as to be part of the experience.

Some Quarterbacks use the audio better than others remember Peyton Manning calling out “Omaha Kill Kill” it sounded awesome like you were sitting in front of him. The sounds still need to be captured and mixed together just like Sound Engineers do in a Recording Studio. Except the Recording Studio could be Green Bay’s Lambeau Field and 20 below. NFL also uses microphones on other players that are standing on the sideline.

The Sound is mixed and then added to the TV audio. Some Quarterbacks have microphones in their helmets. And it isn’t just quarterbacks, there is one, or multiple, members of the defense that have the sticker on their helmets. It is rare to see any other offensive player with the sticker because it is mainly the quarterback that runs the show. The sticker is to show the referees who have a microphone in their helmets.



NFL Headset Rules


The NFL has specific rules regarding the use of headsets for communication between coaches and players on the field:

Sideline Headsets: Each team is allowed one set of headsets on the sideline for communication purposes. These headsets are primarily used by coaches to relay play calls, strategies, and adjustments to players on the field.

The evolution of NFL headsets - The Boston Globe
NFL Headset Rules

Designated Personnel: Only certain designated personnel, typically coaches and select staff members, are allowed to use the headsets. This ensures that communication remains focused and organized during the game.

Frequency Allocation: The NFL allocates specific frequencies for each team’s headsets to prevent interference from external sources. This helps maintain the integrity of communication and ensures that teams can effectively relay information without interruption.

Limitations on Usage: Headset communication is typically allowed up until a certain point in the play clock, usually 15 or 20 seconds before the snap. This restriction ensures that teams cannot receive or transmit information during critical moments of the play.

Penalties for Violations: Violations of headset rules, such as using them outside of designated areas or tampering with frequencies, can result in penalties, including fines and loss of draft picks.

Monitoring and Enforcement: The NFL closely monitors headset usage during games to ensure compliance with league rules. Officials and league representatives may inspect equipment and intervene if they suspect any violations.

Overall, the NFL’s headset rules aim to maintain fair play and competitive balance by regulating communication between coaches and players while minimizing the potential for external interference or unfair advantages. The main reason for the microphones is instant communication between players coach to pillbox and back again. It’s there really for up-tempo offense so the quarterback or defensive captain doesn’t have to keep running off the field every time the play is dead or offensive/defensive plays in bulk (though for a no-huddle, this is still the case).

Most every team in the NFL has 1 player on the offense and defense with a communication device in their helmet, and per NFL rules, that helmet has to have about a quarter-sized, round, green, sticker on the back of it, to signify that is the helmet with the radio.

But by the Laws of the NFL Official Rulebook (Rule 5, section 3, article 3 specifies the use of speakers in helmets.) no mic is allowed in a player’s Helmet. The microphones are attached to the shoulder pads and are quite small. Small enough to be insignificant.

However, the players also have to wear a battery pack to support the mic which has been controversial in the past. It’s done a few hours before the game and most players forget that they have it on. Which can lead to some problems.

Invisible Microphones


NFL Films Selects Lectrosonics For On-Field Audio
NFL Invisible Microphones

“Invisible microphones” typically refer to miniature or concealed microphone technology that is designed to be discreet and inconspicuous. These microphones are often used in various applications where visibility or aesthetics are important factors. Here are some points about invisible microphones:

  1. Miniature Size: Invisible microphones are incredibly small and lightweight, allowing them to be easily hidden or integrated into clothing, accessories, or objects without being noticed.

  2. Discreet Design: These microphones are designed to blend seamlessly into their surroundings, making them virtually undetectable to the naked eye. They may be camouflaged to match the color or texture of their surroundings, further enhancing their invisibility.

  3. Wireless Technology: Many invisible microphones utilize wireless technology, eliminating the need for visible cables or connectors. This enhances their concealability and allows for greater flexibility in placement.

  4. High-Quality Audio: Despite their small size, invisible microphones are often capable of capturing high-quality audio with clear sound reproduction. Advanced technology and engineering techniques are employed to ensure optimal performance in various environments.

  5. Applications: Invisible microphones find applications in a wide range of industries and scenarios, including surveillance, law enforcement, broadcasting, filmmaking, live performances, and covert operations. They are particularly useful in situations where traditional microphones would be obtrusive or impractical.

  6. Challenges: While invisible microphones offer numerous benefits, they also present challenges such as susceptibility to interference, limited range or battery life in wireless models, and potential issues with sound quality in certain environments.

Overall, invisible microphones provide a discreet and effective solution for capturing audio in situations where visibility or aesthetics are important considerations. Their versatility and advanced technology make them valuable tools in various professional and recreational settings.


Technology in Football


Technology has significantly impacted the sport of football, enhancing various aspects of the game. Video replay systems, such as instant replay and challenge flags, enable officials to review crucial plays and make more accurate decisions.

Wearable technology, such as GPS trackers and accelerometers embedded in players’ equipment, provides valuable data on player performance, including speed, distance covered, and impact forces. Communication devices, like the green dot system and sideline headsets, facilitate real-time communication between coaches and players, improving strategy execution and coordination on the field. Innovations in training tools, such as virtual reality simulations and robotic tackling dummies, offer players immersive and safer training experiences, helping them prepare more effectively for game situations.

During the Super Bowl nine wireless microphones are, during the regular season, NFL Films deploys four wires per week, to be distributed among the games. If it’s an important game during the season, NFL Films will hand out five or six microphones.

The number of cameras sent by NFL Films to record games roughly follows this pattern, too. According to Aaron Rogers of the Green Bay Packers, it used to be that only the Offense wore a headset to hear incoming plays from the coaches but now both Guards on the Defense are miked and listening in on the Quarterback calling plays. He feels it’s too much information and a distraction wearing one. He blames an injury on his teammate Randall Cobb a few years back on the Mic.

Rodgers blames Packers’ WR Randall Cobb’s punctured lung on the technology.

 “Randall Cobb had a serious injury last year in a playoff game and I believe, as I think he would as well and the team, that that was caused by him being mic’d up,” Rodgers said. “Because he fell on his mic pack and he had an injury to his insides that kept him out of the game and probably would have kept him out of the rest of the playoffs. The puncture spot, or the injury spot, was directly adjacent to his mic pack.



Even if there is a remote chance that a player’s safety is in jeopardy players like Rogers think that the NFL should revisit it and review its future of Football. When a Player is “mic’d up” during a game, there is no edit during the game but the audio is only made available to broadcast networks and NFL Films who then edit it as they see fit. They’re given time to edit out anything they might find offensive and pick and choose what audio makes it to the broadcast.  

Specific players are picked for their personalities and past experience. This doesn’t mean that things can’t be picked up reflecting the pressures of the game and things are said that are not edited. Other sports teams have also been experimenting with   Mic’d up NBA and Mic’d up NHL and things are catching on.

So there can be some backlash that happens and emotional things said. Numerous times in the past few seasons Players during or after a game have said things that they wish they haven’t and it has gone back to haunt them.   There are objections to the Mic’d Up program that maybe some technology needs to stay out of the game and might be infringing on the player’s privacy. I wonder what Ed Sabol would have to say about that!  



JimGalloway Author/Editor



 *Before we end, I have a little question about the grammar involved in the use of the word Mic/Miked. So I did what most people do. I Googled it. I have written a lot of articles for on using the words associated with the word Mic as a noun or a verb.

Here’s what I found.   Both mike and mic commonly appear as shortened forms of microphone, but mike is the accepted spelling in most dictionaries. Mic presents difficulties because it looks like it should be pronounced mick and because it produces the problematic participles mixed and micing.

 Miked and mic work better. Of course, however, the word is spelled, it is a verb mainly in the phrase mic/mike up, meaning to put a mic on someone or something. Thank goodness we cleared that up. I don’t have to check the spelling on the whole website.  



SportsKeeta- Do All NFL Players Have Headsets In Their Helmets?



Q: What is the purpose of mic’ing up football players?
A: Mic’ing up football players allows for capturing on-field audio for broadcasts, documentaries, and coaching analysis, enhancing the viewer experience and providing insights into on-field communication and strategy.

Q: Where are football players mic’d up?
A: Football players are typically mic’d up in their shoulder pads, helmets, jerseys, or belts/waistbands, depending on personal preference and position.

Q: How does the green dot system work in football?
A: The green dot system involves placing a communication device, usually a microphone, in a player’s helmet to facilitate direct communication between coaches and players, primarily quarterbacks, on the field.

Q: What are the NFL headset rules?
A: NFL headset rules govern the use of communication headsets on the sideline, specifying limitations on usage, designated personnel allowed to use them, and penalties for violations to maintain fair play and competitive balance.

Q: What are invisible microphones?
A: Invisible microphones are miniature or concealed microphone technology designed to be discreet and inconspicuous, often used in various applications where visibility or aesthetics are important factors.



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