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Belichick 'Done' with Surface Tablets

Bill Belichick is known for his terse responses at news conferences. Which is why it was surprising when the New England Patriots head coach went on for more than five minutes about his frustrations with stadium technology during games, including the Microsoft Surface.

"As you probably noticed, I'm done with the tablets," Belichick said, according to a conference call transcript posted on Twitter Tuesday by NESN's Patriots beat reporter Zack Cox. "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."

Belichick's ire is clearly not the kind of publicity Microsoft was seeking by entering a multi-million-dollar partnership with the NFL for teams to use the Surface on the sidelines. The comments come about two weeks after Belichick was shown on camera throwing a Surface tablet against a box on the sidelines in the Patriots' 16-0 loss to the Buffalo Bills.

While Belichick's answer started and finished with the tablets, most of his complaint and much of his frustration actually seemed directed at the communications equipment, which he pointed out belongs to the league and is only supplied to the teams a few hours before the game -- limiting teams' ability to troubleshoot.

"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," he said.

While he gave a shout-out to the Patriots' IT person for doing the best he could with what the NFL provides and when the league provides it, Belichick seems to think the lower-tech approach of static pictures over tablet images is the better way for now.

Update 10/21/16:
Shortly after Belichick's complaints came to light, Business Insider obtained a statement from Microsoft: "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."

On Friday, Microsoft came out with a longer response via a blog post by Yusuf Mehdi, corporate vice president of the Windows and Devices Group at Microsoft. Mehdi starts by acknowledging the flap without naming Belichick or the Patriots.

"This week Surface has been at the center of the debate on the role of technology in the NFL, with different opinions shared from coaches and players. We thought it might be valuable to share some additional context from our perspective," Mehdi writes.

The post goes on to include testimonials from New Orleans Saints Quarterback Drew Brees, Seattle Seahawks Quarterback Russell Wilson, L.A. Rams Defensive Backs Coach Brandon Fisher and NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell about the usefulness of the Surface on the sidelines.

Posted by Scott Bekker on October 18, 2016 at 10:23 AM