Patriots' Bill Belichick's Brutally Honest Microsoft Surface Tablet Takedown Prompts Response From MSFT

Microsoft Surface Sidelines Model

Microsoft Surface tablets have come under fire by one of the most successful head coaches in the history of the National Football League and by extension one of the most successful NFL teams, so the exposure is significant. Patriots head coach Bill Belichick is done with using tablets on the sidelines. 

As outside observers of a sport, it's sometimes easy to dismiss the complexities surrounding the games we watch. While in all team sports, coordination between team staff is important, it's downright imperative in the game of Football and for the NFL. Depth charts, team formation photos, phone calls -- there are many bits of information can make or break a play. Football is quite literally coordinated warfare, so if one element in the system fails, it could upend an entire series, or even cost a team the game.

Variability is something New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick can't tolerate. And who could blame him? The team's mantra is "do your job" and you can't argue with Belichick's track record for success. Belichick has been the head coach of a leading NFL team for 16 years, and has been part of the league since 1975, when he was a special assistant to the Baltimore Colts. He knows how to do his job with the tools he's been given. However, when a new tool is introduced and it fails him, the unapologetic, brutally honest Belichick is going to tell it like it is. This week, unfortunately for Microsoft, Belichick's ire was targeted at the Surface tablet.

Belichick Lets Party

In between plays, during last weekend's match-up against the Cincinnati Bengals, Belichick became impatient after his Surface tablet wouldn't cooperate, so he threw it to the ground. We learned more during the press conference following the game, where the typically very succinct Belichick went on a five-minute rant about everything that he feels is wrong with using Microsoft Surface on the Football field.

Belichick says that tablets are "too undependable", and that notion isn't based on a single incident, but several. "There are very few games where there aren't issues in some form or fashion with that equipment." While he admits that he doesn't understand how all of the technologies surrounding the Surface work, he does know that his faithful IT pro has to struggle each week with getting everything working as it should. Ultimately, given the number of problems he has encountered, Belichick is keen on reverting to the old-school method of using paper pictures to help establish plays.

It's important to note that Belichick didn't specifically call out the brand of tablet that failed him, but given the NFL's well-known multi-million dollar contract to outfit NFL teams with Surface PCs, it's obvious there was only one brand he as speaking of. Not to mention, in December last year, the Dallas Cowboys had similar frustrations with Microsoft Surface and had to resort to paper as well. 

Even though Belichick was speaking of tablets in general for the job he has to do, it's still quite a slap in the face to Microsoft, so Redmond was compelled to respond in a new blog post. In it, the company's Corporate VP of the Windows and Devices Group Yusuf Mehdi tries to undo some of the damage Belichick has caused with his statements, going so far as to include quotes from some of the league's biggest figures.

Microsoft Surface Patriots

New Orleans Saint's quarterback Drew Brees says that Surface has helped reduce the hassle of fiddling with binders during a game, which can be difficult in less-than-ideal weather. "Now you walk to the sideline and it's seamless," says Brees. Even Seattle Seahawks' quarterback Russel Wilson has joined in on the fun, saying, "Every second counts and having Microsoft Surface technology on sidelines allows players and coaches to analyze what our opponents are trying to do in almost real time."

With opinions on both sides of the fence, who's right? Chances are good that the answer is "everyone." If the Surface worked without incident, chances are good that Belichick would have been content to continue using it. But when an integral piece of a equipment disrupts the game, something has to be done. For Belichick at least, Surface wasn't doing its job.