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NFL's Tampa Bay Buccaneers give iPad 2s to players

Tablets will replace heavy paper playbooks and hours spent watching game film in a darkened room.

Soon Bucs coach Raheem Morris may be able to ditch the old 3-ring binder and call plays from a team iPad 2. Facebook screenshot by Eric Mack/CNET

The unexpected practical uses for iPads seem to be multiplying each day. Earlier this month, United Airlines announced it would be purchasing thousands of the tablets to move toward a paperless flight deck, downloading flight manuals and more onto the iPads.

Then today, we got word that the National Football League's Tampa Bay Buccaneers is buying an iPad 2 for each of its players, to be loaded with the team's playbook and game videos to study. Somewhere, loggers and paper companies are surely cursing Steve Jobs while timber forests are enjoying the reprieve.

Traditionally, teams from high school level up to the pros have spent countless hours in darkened rooms watching video from past games and game footage from other teams in preparation for game day. A new tradition may instead involve a roomful of gigantic men staring down at tiny tablet computers.

"It's crazy how much technology has changed the game," second-year safety Cody Grimm told the St. Petersburg Times. "Stuff that we used to come in here to see, we can sit on our couch at home and have access to it 24-7. It's awesome."

Bucs coach Raheem Morris became a fan of the iPad during the lockout between team owners and players earlier this year while using one to watch video of prospective draft picks.

"We give these playbooks out, and by the end of training camp, we collect them so nobody sells them on the Internet," Morris told the paper. "They become game books. If you need a reference to go back, you can pull up a blitz from camp and look at it."

Morris says the idea was an easy sell for both team management and players. The Bucs have one of the youngest rosters in the league, filled with tech-savvy twentysomethings.

I won't be surprised if old trick plays like the Statue of Liberty are soon replaced by an Angry Birds-inspired slingshot pass and coaches start swearing at referees via FaceTime.