Each morning, players went to a table outside the
locker room to pick up their equipment. The heart monitors were worn with a
strap across the chest, and a G.P.S. watch went on each player’s wrist. Before
each workout the players answered questions about how they were feeling that
morning — tired? thirsty? — then headed to the weight room or practice field.

During workouts, data could be tracked in real time on
laptop computers. At one point an observer staring intently at the screen
noticed most of the heart-rate lines had gone flat. When she looked up with
alarm, she chuckled; the players were standing in a circle, idly stretching.

After a recent workout, Boothe returned his equipment.
A staff member then asked him several questions, requesting he use numbers to
rate his level of exertion, thirst and pain, among other feelings.

“When did you go to sleep last night?” Boothe was
asked. He thought for a second. “Ten-thirty,” he said. “When did you get up?”
“Six-thirty,” he said.

For linebacker Chase Blackburn, answering candidly was
a challenge: “The crazy part for me was them asking what we’re eating. This time
of year, the off-season, I’m not used to telling people, Yeah, I had pumpkin pie
or whatever.”

Wide receiver Victor Cruz said reactions to the new
devices varied. “At first, to be honest, it was kind of annoying. Guys didn’t
want to put extra stuff on,” he said, noting that athletes are creatures of

But Cruz generally embraces technology — “I’ve got
everything, the laptop, the iPad,
the iPod,
I’ve got it all,” he said — so he began trying to figure out how the data could
help him.

“Seeing at what points my heart rate peaks and things
like that will make it easier for me to tailor my own workouts when I’m not with
the team,” he said.

Cruz also recognized the safety aspect of the
technology. He has vivid memories of the shock he felt when he heard that
Stringer, a lineman with the Minnesota Vikings, collapsed and died from
complications related to heat stroke after an off-season practice in 2001.

“They didn’t have these tests before, and they didn’t
know where it came from until they did an autopsy,” Cruz said. “You don’t want
it to have to be like that.”

Still, the biggest obstacle for widespread use in
football remains simple logistics: How can these devices fit under a bulky set
of shoulder pads? While some companies, like Under Armour, have produced apparel
with similar technology embedded in it, those products have received mixed

Barnes said the Giants were in discussions to find a
way a device could be worn with the players feeling little to no intrusion. He
added that he hoped the team would be able to use the technology in a
significant way this season.

Either way, he plans to do a presentation for the
players at training camp based on the data gleaned from the off-season program.

“I’m ambivalent about the players’ reception of it at
the moment because they all think they’re the biggest, fastest and strongest,
and that they’ve gotten here without any kind of help,” he said. “They’re wrong.
We’re slowly but surely cultivating them, and they’ll buy in. I really believe

He added: “We’re not going to stop doing it. It’s
going to become part of the Giants’ culture.”