Back in 1980, Steve DeBerg used a microphone to lead his team, the 49ers to victory. No, DeBerg is not the coach, he is the team’s quarterback.
After taking a hit to his throat, DeBerg’s nerves around his larynx were bruised, causing his vocal cords to suffer and restraining him from talking. The doctor advised him to refrain from speaking for a month to which DeBerg responded, “I’m an NFL quarterback. I have to yell over 75,000 fans. I can’t not talk”.
Thus, the team developed a system that will allow DeBerg to communicate with his team amidst the roaring cheers of the crowd without straining his throat or voice — attaching a microphone in his helmet and strapping a speaker system to his back. The microphone was small enough to fit inside his helmet and the wire was connected to the speakers duct-taped to his back under the jersey.
The portable microphone contraption the team created may have made DeBerg look like a camel or hunchback, as commentators and fellow teammates would often tease him about, but it sure did work as the microphone and speaker system were able to help DeBerg lead his team in defeating the New York Jets on the 21st of September in 1980.
Three years later, Steve DeBerg suffered vocal problems once again and had his old microphone system from the 49ers sent over so he may use it again. With new technology upgrades, DeBerg says, “The amplifier they put on me is three times as powerful as a car stereo… It will have an on and off switch.”.
It’s definitely unusual to see a football player using a microphone while on the field during a match. If anything, Steve DeBerg may have unintentionally used the first gaming mic at an actual game before it was even a thing!
All jokes aside, this story shows how microphones can work and give impressive results when used in the right application. In this case, giving the quarterback a microphone was a touchdown.