The NFL’s Pro Bowl game kicks off on Sunday night ahead of next week’s Super Bowl, and part of the pre-game festivities included a fun series of “skills showdowns”. For some reason, this meant pitting some of the game’s best wide receivers and defensive backs against football-dropping drones.
Four players took turns catching footballs dropped by the drones, starting from a height of around 20m in the air before getting progressively higher for an added “challenge”. The balls fell to the ground at about 70km/h, which ironically meant that as the competition progressed and the drones flew higher and higher, players actually had more time to react to the drop and make the catch.
— NFL (@NFL) January 27, 2017
As a skills challenge, the Drone Drop comes across as a bit of an absurd circus act, and seems more like a stunt designed to work a “hot topic” technology into the Pro Bowl festivities. It’s not entirely necessary, because drones have already become a popular tool for several sports, but whatever gets those advertising dollars!
You can see highlights of the Drone Drop competition here, which involved at least a couple of impressive one-handed catches, so there was some skill involved. Does this mean that one day quarterbacks might be replaced by quadcopters buzzing around a stadium? It’s doubtful. They’d certainly come with cheaper contracts, but who wants to see a drone looking into the camera after a Super Bowl win, telling the world it’s going to Disney World?