Playbook Overload: NFL Seeds Quarterbacks With Surface Tablets For Sideline Strategy

Since the debut of its original model, Microsoft's Surface series has had a bit of a rough time clicking with most consumers, namely those so content with their iOS or Android device. With its latest release, though, Surface Pro 3, the Redmond firm gave us great reason to be excited about a Windows-based tablet (or convertible). Our own Marco Chiappetta gave great praise to the device back in May, noting that pricing, not surprisingly, was its biggest drawback.

Well, it seems that the NFL shares Marco's love for the Surface Pro 3, as it'll be rolling them out to the field this coming season as part of a $400 million deal with Microsoft. With the new "Sideline Viewing System", anyone on a team involved with strategy will be able to use these tablets to plan their next course-of-action. It's not just the coach and quarterback that will have access to a tablet - each team will have a 25 on-hand; 13 on the sidelines, and 12 in the coaches box.

With tablets like these having been available on the market for quite some time, I wouldn't blame you if you asked, "What took so long?" There's no doubt that teams would have loved to have had access to this technology sooner, but it simply wasn't allowed as per the rules. Up to this point, teams have had to print out black-and-white photos of the opposition which were rushed out to the field with little time to spare before the next play. Having access to the same, or similar, information on a real-time tablet, could prove to be an absolute boon for both defensive and offensive tactics, and I'm really quite interested to see how that will change the game for both the teams, and for us as viewers.

It's not just the teams that are getting treated to some tech upgrades; so too are the referees. To save time on having to huddle up and discuss things, each ref will be equipped with a wireless Bose headset.

While modern technology is going to make certain aspects of our football easier on the players and refs, it's really yet to be seen if people are going to actually like the changes. Clearly, some would prefer that the game forego as many modern technologies as possible, keeping the game as raw and challenging as possible. It'll be interesting to see the reactions once the regular season hits early next month.

More food for thought: With these technologies providing information to teams and refs alike quicker than ever, will that result in faster games being played? Or simply make even more room for commercials?