New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick is sacking the "official tablet and PC operating system of the NFL" in favor of physical pictures.
"I'm done with tablets," the coach told a room of reporters during a conference call Tuesday, referring to the Microsoft Surface Pro 4, a laptop-tablet hybrid that has been marketed as a production machine among NFL coaches and players.
"I've given them as much time as I can give them," Mr. Belichick said. "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."
In a statement emailed to Ad Age, Microsoft said, "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."
The coach had nearly 800 words to share when asked about the Surface. Mr. Belichick's comments may not come as a surprise, as the coach hasn't had the best history with the Surface product. During the AFC Title game in 2013, when the Patriots played the Denver Broncos, the Surface computers stopped working for nearly 20 minutes on the Patriots sideline. During the snafu, the Broncos scored a touchdown. Earlier this month, Mr. Belichick put a Surface down hard during a game against the Buffalo Bills.
"A statement like this diminishes the value to Microsoft by creating a negative impression around the activation with the sport," said Douglas Masters, managing partner of law firm Loeb and Loeb, which specializes in advertising and marketing as it relates to sports. "And it is bad for the NFL because they need to convince advertisers they are worth the price to be associated with them."
Mr. Masters said it is unlikely the NFL will force Mr. Belichick to use the Surface during gameday, but said he won't be able to use a competitor product such as an Apple iPad on the sidelines.
Still, things might get hairy, as the Lenovo Yoga -- a laptop-tablet hybrid of sorts -- is the official "laptop, desktop and workstation of the NFL."
"If there is an erosion of coaches who are not using the equipment then that devalues the partnership of Microsoft," Mr. Master said. "Microsoft then might be able to renegotiate the exclusivity deal it has with the NFL."
In fairness, Mr. Belichick did say the issues he's been having with the Surface could be related to other technology problems.
"We get the equipment the day of the game, or I'd say not the day of the game but a few hours before the game and we test it and sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't," he said. "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? Is it the coaches' pack? Is it the battery on the coaches' pack? I mean you know, again, it could be one of 15 different things," he added. "So, I would just say there are problems in every game."