Update: The NFL and Microsoft both issued statements to TechCrunch, which are at the bottom of the post.
Bill Belichick, head coach of the New England Patriots, really hates the Microsoft Surface tablet.
Belichick hates these tablets so much he’s even thrown them at things before.
These are the tablets provided by Microsoft that the NFL arranged for teams to use on the sideline during games. While the tablets aren’t connected to the internet, coaches and players can use them to review photos of previous plays – something they used to have to do the old fashioned way with paper and a printer on the sideline.
And while we’re not sure if that specific incident of tablet abuse was because of a bad play that he had just replayed or the actual tablet not working correctly, his rant at a press conference today may be a hint that it’s the latter.
When asked about the Patriots’ headsets malfunctioning during last weeks game, Belichick instead took the time to let everyone know he’s “done with the tablets”. Here’s his full rant:
While he didn’t go into too much detail on the tablets, Belichick essentially said that Microsoft’s surface tablets are too “undependable,” and there “isn’t enough consistency in their performance”.
In terms of the rest of the sideline technology like headsets, Belichick is essentially fed up with the fact that everything always malfunctions and is impossible to fix during games.
So why is the sideline technology so hard to get right? The tablets (as well as headphones and all other sideline technology) are owned and maintained by the NFL. That means it gets delivered to teams literally hours before the game and taken away when it ends. This makes it hard for teams to test for issues before a game and to troubleshoot when something goes wrong.
If the NFL allowed teams to choose their own sideline technology, team staff would be able to test it ahead of time and have people standing by ready to quickly fix potential issues. Oh, and we’d probably see a lot more iPads on the field.
The NFL issued the following statement regarding Surface tablets:
“Microsoft is an integral, strategic partner of the NFL and implementing their technology on our sidelines has increased the efficiency and speed of collaboration between coaches and players to an all-time high. Within our complex environment, many factors can affect the performance of a particular technology either related to or outside of our partner’s solutions. We continue to work with all of our partners to ensure the best systems are in place to most effectively assist the clubs in the execution of their game plan.” – NFL
Microsoft also just issued their own statement:
“We respect Coach Belichick’s decision, but stand behind the reliability of Surface. We continue to receive positive feedback on having Surface devices on the sidelines from coaches, players and team personnel across the league. In the instances where sideline issues are reported in NFL games, we work closely with the NFL to quickly address and resolve.” – Microsoft