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Finalists and Judges Announced for Fifth Annual "1st and Future" Super Bowl Event

Entrepreneurs and data scientists will pitch ideas to modernize the game and advance player safety during the live competition for up to $150,000 in awards

NFL 1st & Future

New York, January 22, 2020 – The National Football League (NFL), in collaboration with the University of Miami and Amazon Web Services, today announced the finalists and judges for 1st and Future, the NFL's annual Super Bowl competition designed to spur novel advancements in athlete safety and performance.

The live event will take place at the Miami Beach Convention Center on January 31, 2020, two days before Super Bowl LIV. During the program, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, Michelle Lee, VP of the Amazon ML Solutions Lab, and former NFL running back Curtis Martin will participate in a panel discussion on player health and safety innovation. The panel will be moderated by Dan Hellie of NFL Network, who will also emcee the competition.

NFL Network will livestream the full competition on January 31 at 10:30 a.m., available at

Finalists will compete in two categories: the NFL 1st and Future Analytics Competition, featuring creative submissions that examine the effects that playing on synthetic turf versus natural turf can have on player movements and the factors that may contribute to lower extremity injuries; and the Innovations to Advance Athlete Health and Safety Competition, highlighting innovative product concepts that aim to improve player health and safety.

Three finalists from the NFL 1st and Future Analytics Competition will be awarded $25,000 and will compete to win Super Bowl LIV tickets. Four finalists from the Innovations to Advance Athlete Health and Safety Competition will compete for a grand prize of $50,000 and two tickets to Super Bowl LIV. The second-place winner will receive $25,000 and two tickets to Super Bowl LIV.

Amazon Web Services (AWS) is an official sponsor of the competition, building on their partnership with the league. Together, the NFL and AWS are leveraging AWS's artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) services to generate new insights into player injuries, game rules, equipment, rehabilitation and recovery.

Each individual and company finalist has provided the following description of their analysis or technology that they will be presenting during 1st and Future:

NFL 1st and Future Analytics Competition

Elijah Hall, Seattle, Washington

Elijah's analysis found synthetic fields combined with velocity in zigzag movement patterns introduce a significant increase of risk to lower limb non-contact injuries.

Ben Jenkins and Steve Jenkins, Denver, Colorado

Steve and Ben completed a novel analysis of NFL data to help uncover factors that contribute to lower limb injuries. This includes advanced machine learning techniques and new visualizations of characterizing player movement.

John Miller, Fort Worth, Texas

John created a model that shows the effects of player acceleration, turf type, and weather conditions on lower-body injuries.

Innovations to Advance Athlete Health and Safety Competition

Nextiles, Brooklyn, New York

Nextiles builds fabric-based sensors that when sewn into the interior padding of helmets can locate, triangulate and measure forces impacted on a player's head in order to quantify the factors that contribute to concussions and traumatic brain injuries.

*Physmodo, Dallas, Texas *

Using its proprietary human tracking skeleton developed specifically for biomechanics, Physmodo assesses movement patterns through an objective, automated and 30 second screen.

Plantiga, Vancouver, British Columbia

Plantiga combines sensor insoles and artificial intelligence that analyze how people move to improve health, injury rehabilitation and performance.

Protect3d, Durham, North Carolina

Protect3d leverages 3D scanning and printing technologies to give medical professionals the ability to create anatomically-precise protective devices, each optimized for an individual athlete's comfort, mobility and protection.

The panel of judges will feature:

  • Jeffrey L. Duerk, Executive Vice President for Academic Affairs and Provost, University of Miami
  • Shelly Ibach, President and Chief Executive Officer of Sleep Number
  • Lee D. Kaplan, M.D., Director of the University of Miami Sports Medicine Institute
  • Michelle Lee, Vice President of the Amazon ML Solutions Lab
  • Ryan Nece, Managing Partner, Next Play Capital, LLC
  • Priya Ponnapalli, Ph.D., Senior Manager and Principal Data Scientist at Amazon ML Solutions Lab
  • Eugene Shen, Director of Personnel Analytics, Miami Dolphins
  • Michael Swartzon, M.D., Team Physician, Miami Dolphins
  • Nick Tsinoremas, Ph.D., Vice Provost for Research Computing and Data and Founding Director of the University of Miami Center for Computational Science

For more information on 1st and Future, visit

About the NFL's Health and Safety Initiatives

The NFL is committed to advancing progress in the diagnosis, prevention and treatment of sports-related injuries. As part of the NFL's ongoing health and safety efforts, in September 2016, Commissioner Goodell launched Play Smart. Play Safe. — a league-wide health and safety initiative. At the heart of the initiative is a pledge of $100 million in support for independent medical research and engineering advancements and a commitment to work to better protect our players and make our game safer, including enhancements to medical protocols and improvements to how our game is taught and played. For more information about the NFL's health and safety efforts, please visit

About the University of Miami

The University of Miami is a private research university and academic health system with a distinct geographic capacity to connect institutions, individuals, and ideas across the hemisphere and around the world. The University's vibrant and diverse academic community comprises 11 schools and colleges serving more than 17,000 undergraduate and graduate students in more than 180 majors and programs. Located within one of the most dynamic and multicultural cities in the world, the University is building new bridges across geographic, cultural, and intellectual borders, bringing a passion for scholarly excellence, a spirit of innovation, a respect for including and elevating diverse voices, and a commitment to tackling the challenges facing our world. For more information about the University of Miami, visit

About Amazon Web Services

For 13 years, Amazon Web Services has been the world's most comprehensive and broadly adopted cloud platform. AWS offers over 165 fully featured services for compute, storage, databases, networking, analytics, robotics, machine learning and artificial intelligence (AI), Internet of Things (IoT), mobile, security, hybrid, virtual and augmented reality (VR and AR), media, and application development, deployment, and management from 69 Availability Zones (AZs) within 22 geographic regions, with announced plans for 13 more Availability Zones and four more AWS Regions in Indonesia, Italy, South Africa, and Spain. Millions of customers—including the fastest-growing startups, largest enterprises, and leading government agencies—trust AWS to power their infrastructure, become more agile, and lower costs. To learn more about AWS, visit