Engineering the Quarterback Cam


The offense approaches the line. I-formation; running backs in position, 4th down, the Longhorns down by 6, 39 seconds left in the 4th quarter of the 2017 championship game. From the quarterback (QB) cam mounted in the forehead of the quarterbacks helmet, the desparate home team crowd can see what he sees, hear what he hears, and almost feel what he feels; blackened eyes, dirty faces, heavy breathing, grass stained uniforms. The QB takes his place between the guards, looks left, then right, eyes the nose tackle inches away.  The defense shows blitz. The QB calls an audible.


The linemen hit, the offense fades right as the QB bootlegs behind them, running, looking over his left shoulder, ball tucked. The defense keeps pace. The QB stops, looks cross field to his receiver. The fans see it, he sees it, thousands at home see it, live and on the screen through the cam. The QB and receiver connect, two defensive backs right on the receivers tail. Receiver breaks double coverage dodging right. The defensive cornerback breaks through the line. From every angle all see the sack coming. The QB cocks and releases cross field as his head is twisted by some force, then pounded to the ground as the sound of clashing gear echos through the stadium. The QB cam goes dark in the grass.

Perfect bullet spiral, cross field, just in front of the uprights, just inside the end zone. The receiver launches out, reaching, diving. The pigskin is low, near the ground. Captured a fingers thickness above the grass.


Fans ferociously object, roaring with complant. The offensive coach vehimently stomps onto the field. Thousands of unseen armchair QBs jump in protest spilling drinks on the carpet. The winning team charges the field jumping with joy. The QB lays on the ground. Then a flag is thrown.

“The previous play is under review.”

The QB slowly rises, the QB cam packed with grass and dirt, the image blurry. Fans and players are glued to the screen watching the replays over and over. Impact and GPS readings are displayed over the image. From the QB cam the integrated inertial sensors show violent head twisting following ball release.

“Face mask!” “Face mask!” the offense insist.

The broadcasters switch to the two football (FB) cams mounted forward and aft in each nose of the ball providing clear imagery of the flight of the ball departing the QB (as he’s tackled), sailing over the players, and approaching the receiver, and the ground. The video plays in high definition slow motion as the ball approaches the fingers of the receiver. You can almost see his fingerprints. Is it…? Did he…? The visiting team thinks he did. The FB cam couldn’t lie. As the re-play clearly shows the ball enter the receivers hands while his hands are barely above the grass. The offense cheers, then verbally attack the officials.

While waiting, commentators talk of an earlier year, a different QB and his major in engineering. In addition to leading his football team, he also led a senior engineering project to develop the robust gyrostablized inertial cameras now in regulation use throughout the league. Many objected to the cameras stating that uncertainty was part of the game. But it was inevitable. Fan’s, officials, and players now getting intimate coverage as though they were the QB, as though they were riding inside the ball like pilots in an airplane. The official signals. The crowd goes silent.

“After further review, the call on the field is…..”


About Kenneth Richard Hardman

AncestorClips are very short stories about very real people. Each clip nurtures awareness of a time, a place, and the character of a man or woman who cultivated a path for our life. The reader feels the good, the obstacles, the happiness, the sadness, and the overcoming. They cheer us, make us resilient when challenged, give us purpose, and connect us to our multi-generational family. Each story is followed by reflections from the author and readers sharing how the story strengthened or inspired them. Ken Hardman is a son, a brother, a grandson, a great-grandson… He is also a husband, father and grand-father. Ken is a professional engineer, engineering mentor, technical writer, and associate technical fellow at a major aerospace company. He is a writer of engineering and family history stories. Please join Ken in reading, reflecting upon, or writing #AncestorClips
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