Technology is often designed to make life a bit easier but that certainly hasn’t been the case for New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick.
During a conference call with reporters on Tuesday, Belichick was asked about a report that claimed the Patriots’ headsets had malfunctioned during Sunday’s game against the Cincinnati Bengals. Rather than simply answering the question, Belichick used the opportunity to share his thoughts about using Microsoft Surface tablets and other technology on the sidelines.
In short, Belichick said he is done with the tablets as they’re too undependable. He said he gave it his best shot and that he tried to work through the process but they just don’t work for him as there isn’t enough consistency in their performance.
The Patriots coach explained that most of the technological equipment they use on the sidelines belongs to the league. What’s more, they often don’t get access to the Surface tablets and other devices until just a few hours before a game. Sometimes the equipment works, sometimes it doesn’t.
If teams had access to devices earlier, they’d no doubt have more time for testing in an effort to get everything working come game time. Doing so, however, could give a team an unfair advantage so it’s not allowed.
Microsoft inked a five-year, $400 million deal with the NFL back in 2014 which made its Surface tablet the “official tablet of the NFL.” As part of the agreement, coaches and players on the sidelines would use Surface tablets to view photos of formations from previous plays.
Before tablets, teams utilized printers on the sidelines that would print out black-and-white images of the previous formations to give coaches a better look at how their players and those on the other side of the ball are lining up before the snap. Belichick said he would be going back to this old-school method.
In response, Microsoft issued the following statement on the matter:
"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."