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Players were threatened with hefty fines — Mr. Brown said in the neighborhood of $9,000 — if they didn’t turn in their playbooks when cut or traded. With the likelihood that an iPad then becomes an expensive paperweight, there is less incentive to keep it.

Mr. Polian brought up WikiLeaks as an example of how even government documents can be compromised. In the unlikely event that an iPad playbook is hacked, Grossman said, “Even still, football is football. Even if they did know our offense, you go play.”

Said Alexander: “It’s actually harder for you to actually steal it now if you really wanted to take and maybe scan it or something. You can’t do that anymore.”

The future

Mr. Brown sees the cost of iPad playbook and video technology coming down as it becomes more widespread. Right now, the subscription cost per team is based on factors such as cloud storage space and the number of users.

But the future of this kind of technology can be even more expansive.

“Nobody has integrated a Skype or a video chat with the playbook yet,” Mr. Brown said. “The coach is talking to a player from the house, that kind of thing. I think that’s where it could go next.”

As recently as three years ago, even this kind of technology was hard to envision having a practical application in the NFL. But with teams looking for the latest competitive advantage, expect more evolution with iPads.

“I think this is a pretty cool first step,” Grossman said. “Who knows? A virtual reality practice where you can step in and see stuff? I don’t know. It’s just a cool learning tool. It just makes life easier.”