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After Further Review: Colts Use of “Hearing Aids” May Have Been Legal After All

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Yesterday I wrote a story regarding Tarik Glenn’s recent comments to Indy Star reporter Clifton Brown admitting that players on the Colts offensive line wore “hearing aids” on a road game during Peyton Manning’s rookie season. I also included in the headline that these were illegal hearing aids and explained in the comments that even if the NFL rule book didn’t explicitly state that hearing aids or ear plugs were illegal, it struck me as flying in the face of the integrity of the game to alter your ability to hear in order to muffle or take crowd noise out of the game.

It turns out, I was wrong.

No matter how surprising it is to me that this is allowed, the use of hearing aids or special ear plugs to muffle crowd noise and allow offensive linemen to hear the quarterback’s calls at the line is allowed and the NFL has had the opportunity to respond to the public use of these devices but has remained silent. The most relevant relevant highly publicized use of these devices occurred in December of 2013 when the New Orleans Saints traveled to Seattle.

Needless to say, the NFL rules committee would be on high alert after ESPN and USA Today both report on the use of these special, custom-made ear plugs during an important game with playoff implications. Yet, despite the Seahawks ownership having ample opportunity to make a big deal out of it prior to the 2014 season and despite Commissioner Goodell having every opportunity to make an example of the Saints or bring the use of these devices to the forefront to protect the integrity of the game, none of this happened.

Colts fans have certainly had a running feud with Patriots fans over the past few years regarding claims of cheating, especially when an NFL investigation determined that the Patriots cheated by tampering with the air pressure in footballs during the AFC Championship Game in January of 2015. The very mention of using hearing aids was likely entertaining to the rival fan base.

If so, Colts fans will get a kick out of the fact that the New England Sports Network (NESN), one of the primary sports news sources covering the Patriots, reported on the use of these ear plugs by Drew Brees and the Saints when they traveled to Seattle in 2013. No outrage followed. No widespread claims of cheating.

Point being, much to this writers surprise, nothing Tarik Glenn said in his interview with the Indy Star indicated cheating after all. I am guessing that it might come as a shock to those who have thoroughly enjoyed a day of seeing a tiny cloud hanging over the Colts heads — and particularly those who have been searching for a way to taint Peyton Manning’s stellar career.

Too bad. Turns out Mike Florio and I were both wrong. There is nothing to see here.