Super Bowl Sunday’s Winning Football Team Will Have Much More in Common With Great Medical & Advanced Technology Teams — Than Any Software Company

Sherri Douville
6 min readFeb 12, 2023

Superbowl is here and people have or they may be ready to place proverbial bets on who’s winning. It got us wondering, how much are today’s winning football teams the same or different from yesterday’s football franchises? It turns out, a lot different shown in the table below.

The funniest recent thing was learning how football has more in common with medicine than software does in how it’s regulated. Check out here how the NFL institutes new rules (regs)

“Now spearheaded by the Competition Committee, the NFL rules-changing process is systematic and consensus-oriented. Widely agreed-on ideas may be quickly approved and implemented. Although the vast majority of proposed rule changes are never adopted, all are carefully considered.” [1] As an analogy, every success in medicine stems from competently standing up and running work groups that achieve consensus and shared ownership.

Interestingly, the biggest successful football rule game changes in the last quarter century have revolved around safety under Joel Bussert; the former NFL vice president of player personnel and football operations, who steered the rule-making Competition Committee for decades behind the scenes until 2015.

Credited for the progress the league has made on player safety, especially with concussions. “He was at the forefront of the changes, saying, ‘We have to do something or there will no longer be a game,’” [2] thereby demonstrating an amazingly prescient, sophisticated understanding of society’s license to operate for any business today. For AI, data, and software; governments worldwide are putting safety pressure on policy with what are imminently dramatic impacts for technology leaders including threatening the social license to operate. [3] This is a non starter for medical technology as well as advanced technologies. What I call “beyond SaaS” or “beyond Software as a Service.”

Some fun distinctions for the other ways the game of football has changed are highlights below from this oldie but goodie article from the Bleacher report on how the game of football has evolved: [4]

“It used to be that a credible running game and a strong defense were two essential traits all would-be Super Bowl contenders had to share. However, the proliferation of more expansive passing attacks and defensive responses designed to pressure the backfield quickly with multiple blitzers mean the run is no longer as important.

Superior athleticism has been usurped by increasingly intricate plans/strategy.

Quarterbacks now have to be field generals, in the mold of Peyton and Eli Manning, Tom Brady, Aaron Rodgers and Drew Brees. Because today’s offensive systems are determined by the mind and production of the quarterback running them, that passer has to have an expert knowledge of the schemes/plans//strategy.

Strong-armed, quick-thinking quarterbacks are putting the ball in the air more often and passing to bigger receivers who present mismatch issues all across a secondary. That means that even a defense that shuts down the run and creates consistent pressure can still be undone simply by three completions down the field.”

After focusing on specialization in the 50’s for a faster, more skilled game[2] at the time; today’s game is breaking down those silos of hyper specialization that emerged.

For example, “tight ends have to be able to operate as in-line blockers and receivers and also have the ability to work the slot and split out in the manner of wide receivers. Offensive personnel groupings are as precise as medical technology project teams should ideally be but this precision absolutely would not be typically found in mainstream SaaS.

A running back who cannot adequately pass protect is likely to see his playing time limited. This reminds me of subject matter experts and coordination amongst them with needed clinical or technical program strategy and execution. Pass-blocking is the top priority for most offenses and vital in countering the blitz-happy schemes that currently dominate defensive football.

It is perhaps defenses that require the most versatility from their players. The fire zone blitz has become a staple of almost every defensive scheme in the league. Gee, this sounds a lot like cybersecurity.

Defensive backs must be good tacklers and excellent blitzers in today’s game.” Learn about defensive personnel groupings here.

Here are the main ways the past game called NFL football diverge from the modern NFL game:

*QB tactical focus →QB now is more of a general manager

*Superior athleticism →Game dictated and won by superior strategy

*Dominating the line of scrimmage →Enabling the QB

*Focused on Mostly Tackling →Intercepting attacks

*Specialization →Versatile player

In all of these ways, when one thinks about winning in football, it looks a lot more like a medical or advanced technology (enterprise mobility, AR, AI, drones) team than a general software company. The former two are both team intensive, highly skilled, regulated with consensus and process built rules. They both require sophisticated orchestration of a constellation of disparate, specialized skills.

To accomplish this brand of teamwork, reminds me of how the optimal medical and advanced technology teammate is now more a “V-shape” than a “T-shape” V stands for VERSATILE where a professional is both deep and broad, with impressive levels of depth in multiple areas adjacent to their core competency. I am personally honored to work with a number of renaissance people like this at Medigram.


In summary, this more dynamic football game and its players bear only partial resemblance to the football game of the past. This is why the winning team on Superbowl Sunday won’t be using yesterday’s plays or training players on yesterday’s drills. This is exactly like medical technology and advanced technologies (beyond SaaS) which is why we wrote the bestselling book, Advanced Health Technology. This is to make clear the modern field game of medical technology and in part, illustrate how it has more in common with football than simple software or SaaS. [5]

Ponder each, the Chiefs and Eagles teams’ stars’ strengths and weaknesses here:

While this post focused on the game of football, it did not cover how the industry of football has been changing which you can review here:

[1] NFL Football Operations “Bent But Not Broken”

[2] Evolution of the game: The past decades have seen multiple changes to make NFL action more compelling

[3] Raufflet, E., Baba, S., Perras, C., Delannon, N. (2013). Social License. In: Idowu, S.O., Capaldi, N., Zu, L., Gupta, A.D. (eds) Encyclopedia of Corporate Social Responsibility. Springer, Berlin, Heidelberg.

[4] The Best Blueprint for Building a Super Bowl Champion in Today’s NFL

[5] Douville, S. (Ed.). (2023). Advanced Health Technology: Managing Risk While Tackling Barriers to Rapid Acceleration (1st ed.). Productivity Press.

By Sherri Douville, CEO at Medigram, the Mobile Medicine company. Recognized in 8 categories of top CEOs by Board Room Media (Across SMS, mHealth, iOS, IT, Database, Big Data, Android, Healthcare). Top ranked medical market executive worldwide and #1 ranked in mobile technology categories (mhealth, iOS, Android), #1–2 (on any given day) for the cybersecurity market in the U.S. on Crunchbase. Best selling editor/author, Mobile Medicine: Overcoming People, Culture, and Governance & Advanced Health Technology: Managing Risk While Tackling Barriers to Rapid Acceleration, Taylor & Francis; Series Editor for Trustworthy Technology & Innovation + Trustworthy Technology & Innovation in Healthcare. (contracted to advise top academic and professional education publisher Routledge, Taylor & Francis).

Sherri is the co-chair of the IEEE/UL JV for the technical trust standard SG project for Clinical IoT in medicine, P2933. She is passionate about redefining technology, software and data for medicine and advanced health technologies in a way that’s worth the trust of clinicians, our family, and friends. Ms. Douville leverages her books to inform her work on the CHIME CDH security specialization certification. She also advises and co-founded the Cybersecurity curriculum for the Black Corporate Board Readiness and Women’s Corporate Board Readiness programs at Santa Clara University.