NFL head coach benches Microsoft Surface tablet for good

The Microsoft Surface tablet has seen its share of hard hits as part of a deal with the US National Football League – remember Aaron Rodgers' tablet toss? - but one coach has had enough. 

New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick went on a five-minute tear Tuesday, saying he's benching the Surface for good.  

"As you probably noticed, I'm done with the tablets," Belichick said during a press conference when asked about issues with the slates during Sunday's game. "I've given them as much time as I can give them. They're just too undependable for me. 

"I'm going to stick with pictures as several of our other coaches do as well because there just isn't enough consistency in the performance of the tablets, so I just can't take it anymore." 

You can read the full transcript of the press conference here, but Belichick went on to say discontinuing use of the Surface is a "personal decision" and he's "done with the tablets."  

"I'll use the paper pictures from here on because I've given it my best shot," he said. "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."

You can see Belichick take out his frustrations with the Surface below: 

Belichick noted the team experiences problems with other tech during games on "a regular basis" as well, but he has reached his limit with the Surface. By using paper photos, the coach can have a handle on what's happening on the field without dealing with, as he describes, undependable tablets. 


Microsoft and the NFL struck a $400 million, five-year deal in 2014 that makes the Surface the "official tablet" of the league. When asked about Belichick's comments, the NFL sent us this statement:

"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."

For its part, Microsoft respects Belichick's call, but is standing by its slate.

“We respect Coach Belichick’s decision, but stand behind the reliability of Surface," the company said in a statement. "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.”

This isn't the first negative press to surround the Surface as it relates to the NFL. When it was introduced to the league, commentators often referred to the tablets as iPads. And while it was later disclosed to be a network issue, during a Patriots vs Denver Broncos game last year, Belichick's squad experienced a still photo problem with their Surfaces. Some even dubbed the situation "Tabletgate". 

This past Sunday was enough for the Super Bowl-winning coach to finally make the cut, and it doesn't sound like the Surface will work its way back into his good graces anytime soon. 

Michelle Fitzsimmons

Michelle was previously a news editor at TechRadar, leading consumer tech news and reviews. Michelle is now a Content Strategist at Facebook.  A versatile, highly effective content writer and skilled editor with a keen eye for detail, Michelle is a collaborative problem solver and covered everything from smartwatches and microprocessors to VR and self-driving cars.