Patriots coach Bill Belichick thinks Microsoft’s Surface tablet makes his job harder. So hard in fact that he’s "done with the tablets" and is converting back to paper pictures, Belichick told reporters on a conference call today, according to Fox Sports. It isn’t an issue with Microsoft’s product in particular, but rather the entire idea of using modern touchscreen computers on the sidelines of an active NFL game. Belichick says it’s a "personal decision" and that he gave it his best shot.
"As you probably noticed, I’m done with the tablets," Belichick said. "They’re just too undependable for me. I’m going to stick with pictures, which several of our other coaches do, as well, because their just isn’t enough consistency in the performance of the tablets. I just can’t take it anymore." Belichick spoke at length — around five minutes and 25 seconds — about how technology often fails him and his coaching staff in the lead-up to games and often even during the game itself.
Here's Belichick's full answer as to why he hates the tablets. Lasted five minutes and 25 seconds. pic.twitter.com/wcSqebtQRu— Zack Cox (@ZackCoxNESN) October 18, 2016
"Sometimes something happens and it has to be fixed. And first of all, you have to find out what the problem is," he said. "It could be one of 15 different things." The unreliability of sideline tablets was the noted cause of breakdown during a Broncos and Patriots playoff match back in January, when both teams couldn't access photos and other information at critical points during the game.
Microsoft struck a deal to supply the NFL with Surface tablets back in 2014. Since then, it's seemingly strategic marketing tool to have its device on some of the most watched television programs in the country. (And in the newest Madden game as well.) However, the deal has also come with its fair share of unintended consequences, like announcers forgetting the product’s name and referring to it as an "iPad-like tool." There’s also the case of players and coaches abusing the device, like when Belichick smashed his on the sidelines earlier this month and when Green Bay quarterback Aaron Rodgers threw his to the ground last year.
In a statement given to The Verge, Microsoft says the Surface still has an overall positive reception from members of the NFL. "We respect Coach Belichick’s decision, but stand behind the reliability of Surface," the statement reads. "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."
Update 3:33PM ET, October 18th: Added comment from Microsoft.