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How Google Glass may change the NFL

Oakland Raiders punter Chris Kluwe believes you can play football and wear Google's fascinating glasses. He's already been using them at practice. What next? Linebackers wearing them? Probably.

Look. It's coming.
Chris Kluwe/YouTube screenshot by Chris Matyszczyk/CNET

I have heard it said that some bar owners are quite prepared to walk up to anyone wearing Google Glass and smack them quite hard.

This might seem a trifle antisocial. There again, that's been said of Google Glass.

And yet there seems to be a place where a touch of Google Glass violence might actually be legal, and even welcome.

It's called the NFL.

Oakland Raiders punter Chris Kluwe is one of those who is a Google Glass Explorer. So he's been wearing his glasses at training camp and shooting scenes from the life of one of the few members of the team desperate not to get hit.

Oddly, though, he believes that Google's glasses can withstand a hit. He told Forbes that he's actually hit a couple of players in drills, while be-Glassed.

Some might offer that the impact of being hit by a punter resembles that of being hit by a Prada clutch. (Of course that's happened to me. It was, apparently, an accident.) Still, it certainly opens the imagination to ever more intimate glimpses of NFL action.

Kluwe has already posted some of his Google Glass videos to YouTube. They are marginally more fascinating than videos of, say, Bon Jovi's keyboard player wearing Glass.

Kluwe insists that Google Glass is a much more pleasant fit under his helmet than, say, a GoPro camera. The Vikings' Adrian Peterson had a camera embedded into his helmet this week. I have embedded the results below.

Kluwe believes that one day technology will allow players to have plays projected into their visors. But where does it stop? Wouldn't it feel like cheating if, as Kluwe suggests, quarterbacks would get a little flashing light to tell them a receiver is open? Where's the fun in that?

Football, though, is a wild sport. And Google Glass can capture the wildness with vast intimacy.

Kluwe told Forbes: "You can see the rush coming in, what it's like going down the field. That's the revolutionary part. When you have the view of running down the field with 21 other guys all moving at real time -- that first person perspective -- no one has gotten that sense before. That's what people want. The speed of the game, how chaotic it is."

Yes, people want chaos.

Which leads me to think about a potential kink in Kluwe's augmented optimism. One can conceive of so many ways -- in so many sports -- that in-headgear cameras could enhance the excitement. Baseball immediately comes to mind.

Football, though, does embrace violence. The only thing is that the players, bloated on ever greater dosages of McDonald's and narcotics, are suffering greater short- and long-term injuries.

The NFL is ever more conscious of the fact that players are inflicting heavier pain on themselves and others. The league is getting sued by players over head injuries.

At what point might some Google Glass footage become too gruesome for public viewing? At what point might someone say no to a close-up of a head snapping back, an eye being gouged, or a groin being thumped?

Oh, what am I talking about? America loves violence. It's only things like Janet Jackson's bare breast that might shock the Super Bowl-viewing public.

Just imagine if there'd been a Justin Timberlake Google Glass view of that.