Six years ago, 56-year-old Jill Cakert developed, and patented, a color-coded contraption that essentially looks like a collection of different colored paint swatches attached by a key ring.
Cakert, who in addition to being a dental hygienist also is a volunteer softball coach, created the device to help and other coaches relay signs to players on the field. She called it the Signalfan. Now, at least one NFL coach has taken notice, and is using the device himself.
"All I did, I sent [Philadelphia Eagles coach] Chip Kelly a note and said, I know you use color squares and pictures for signs, I thought maybe you might like this," Cakert tells the Philadelphia Inquirer of her new connection with the NFC East-leading Eagles. "If nothing else happens in my life with the Signalfan, at least I made it to the Eagles."
Shortly after sending Kelly a Signalfan, she got a letter- as well as a check for $25 (the Signalfan costs $24.99)- from Kelly.
On a note accompanying the check, Kelly wrote, 'it's been a big help!! Great Idea!!'
"I have no clue what they're using it for,'" Cakert told The Inquirer. "They have so much going on on the sidelines, you see Chip Kelly with his tongue out talking, somebody doing hand signals. They could be using it as a decoy for all I know."
Whatever the team is using it for, it's definitely using it - as the Inquirer reports, Eagles intern R.J. Harvey can often be seen maneuvering the Signalfan?s ?six baseball-bat-shaped, 9-inch blades (fanning) out in all directions,? as if to relay varied signals from sideline coaches to personnel on the field.
Kelly, however, won't tip his hand as to how he is using the Signalfan during games.
"It's just another way to communicate what we're doing on game days," he said of the Signalfan at a press conference.
Cakert, however, is ecstatic to see her invention used on the field.