TEMPE, Ariz. – Flying cameras have been providing unique perspectives on everything from golf to college and professional football for more than a decade, becoming so commonplace that fans rarely notice the whizzing remote-controlled devices.
At the Insight Bowl on Friday night, no one could miss the overhead camera when it came crashing down to the field late in the fourth quarter, nearly taking out one of the players.
The ESPN camera narrowly missed Iowa receiver Martin McNutt Jr., who became entangled in the guide wire but wasn't hurt.
"First, I looked: What is it that fell from the sky?"' McNutt said after Iowa's 31-14 loss to No. 19 Oklahoma. "The next thing I know, the camera kind of scratched me a little bit. It was just pulling me and I knew I didn't want to keep going with it."
ESPN has consistently used the cameras for football coverage, making it a staple of "Monday Night Football." The cameras also have been used occasionally in the NBA, NHL, NASCAR, NCAA basketball, baseball and at the island-green 17th hole at the TPC Sawgrass during The Players Championship.
The cameras, despite flying over the playing field, have rarely interfered with the action.
At the 2009 Las Vegas bowl between BYU and Oregon State, the overhead camera reportedly had to be taken down due to wind gusts of around 40 mph.
The incident at the Insight Bowl occurred with Iowa trying to rally from a 10-point deficit in the closing minutes.
While lining up for a play near the 20-yard line at the south end of Sun Devil Stadium, two Hawkeyes had to jump out of the way when the camera fell when the wire appeared to snap with 2:22 left.
McNutt dodged the camera as it fell behind him, but became entangled in the guide wire after it thudded to the ground. McNutt suffered only a minor scratch, but the game was delayed for about five minutes as crews dragged the camera off the field and made sure the wire was out of the way.
McNutt was able to joke about the incident.
"I fell like somebody was trying to kill me on their (Oklahoma's) staff," he said. "If you are looking, I'm looking for you. No. It was lucky it didn't hit me."