- NBC Sports
Patriots coach Bill Belichick has given up on using the NFL’s official Microsoft Surface tablets, recently telling reporters on a conference call that “they’re just too undependable for me,” Fox Sports reports.
“There’s just no consistency,” Belichick said. “I’ve given them all I can give them. I just can’t take it anymore.”
NFL coaches like Belichick had been using the Surface tablets, issued by the NFL as part of a partnership with Microsoft, as a replacement for printed-out charts and field diagrams. Belichick now says he’ll go back to good old-fashioned paper printouts.
Zack Cox of NESN posted the full transcript of Belichick’s response to Twitter. The coach expressed frustration at the complexity that technology like the Surface adds to the business of coaching, saying “weekly, we have to deal with something,” like network failures or dead batteries or other problems that require attention.
All in all, Cox says, Belichick went on for a solid five minutes and 25 seconds about his technological frustrations.
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
In fairness to Microsoft, it sounds as if the source of Belichick’s agitation may not be the Surface itself. Back in January, the Surface appeared to fail during a game between Belichick’s New England Patriots and the Denver Broncos – but the real culprit turned out to be a Wi-Fi failure in the stadium.
In fact, Microsoft said earlier in 2016 that the NFL’s tablets had never broken, even when Johnny Manziel hit his head on one. Still, it’s not a great look for Microsoft if coaches like Belichick are giving up on using the Surface on the sidelines, even if it’s not the company’s fault.
A Microsoft spokesperson tells Business Insider:
“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.”
An NFL spokesperson tells Business Insider:
“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.”
And here’s Belichick’s full remarks, as per Cox:
“As you probably noticed, I’m done with the tablets. They’re just too undependable for me. I’m going to stick with pictures, which several of our other coaches do, as well, because there just isn’t enough consistency in the performance of the tablets. I just can’t take it anymore. The other communications systems involved the press box to the coaches on the field and the coach on the field – the signal-caller – to the coach-quarterback, coach-signal caller system. And those fail on a regular basis.
“There are very few games we play – home or away, day, night, cold, hot, preseason, regular season, postseason – it doesn’t make any difference. There are very few games where there aren’t issues in some form or fashion with that equipment.
“And again, there’s a lot of equipment involved, too. There’s headsets in the helmets. There’s the belt pack, that communication. There’s a hookup or a connection to an internet service, or that process and so forth with the coaches in the press box. There’s a number of pieces of equipment. There’s a number of connections. They’re on different frequencies. Again, not that I’d know anything about this, but as it’s been explained to me, there’s a lot of things involved, and inevitably, something goes wrong somewhere at some point in time. I would say weekly, we have to deal with something.
“Dan Famosi is our IT person, and he does a great job of handling those things. This is all league equipment, so we don’t have it. We use it, but it isn’t like we have the equipment during the week and we can work with it and [say], ‘OK, this is a problem. Let’s fix this,’ or, ‘That’s not how it works.’ We get the equipment the day of the game – or, not the day of the game, a few hours before the game. We test it, and sometimes it work [sic], sometimes it doesn’t.
“Usually by game time it is working, but I would say not always. And then during the game, sometimes something happens and it has to be fixed. And first of all, you have to figure out what the problem is. Is it a battery? Is it the helmet? It is the coach’s pack? Is it the battery on the (coach’s pack)? It could be one of 15 different things. So I would just say there are problems in every game. There were problems last week, but there were problems the week before that, too. Some are worse than others. Sometimes both teams have them, sometimes one team has them and the other team doesn’t have them.
“The equity rule that’s involved there on certain aspects of the communication system but not on all aspects, meaning what happens on one side, then the other team has to have the same. If ours are down, then theirs have to be down, and vice versa. But that’s only true in certain aspects of the communications system, not everything. Overall, there’s a lot of complexity to the technology. There’s a lot of complexity to the multiple systems. I know on our end, Dan does a great job to fix those as quickly as possible. He has very limited access. I don’t know how much urgency there is on the other part – from the league’s standpoint – how much urgency there is for them to have everything right. I don’t know. I’m not involved with that.
“But, yeah. It was a problem last week. It’s basically a problem every week. The degrees aren’t always the same, but we’re usually dealing with something. But as far as the tablet goes, there was an experiment in a couple of the preseason games – it was one preseason game; we actually had two, because it was our home game and Carolina’s home game – where we had video on the tablets. But for me, personally, it’s a personal decision, I’m done with the tablets. I’ll use the paper picture from here on, because I just have given it my best shot. I’ve tried to work through the process. But it just doesn’t work for me, and that’s because there’s no consistency to it. Long answer to a short question, sorry.”