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NFL and Microsoft respond to criticism by Bill Belichick about tablets

02 October 2016: New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick takes a look at the clock late in the game. The Buffalo Bills defeated the New England Patriots 16-0 in a regular season NFL game at Gillette Stadium in Foxborough, Massachusetts. (Photo by Fred Kfoury III/Icon Sportswire)
Photographer: Fred Kfoury III/Icon Sportswire

New England Patriots coach Bill Belichick had some unpleasant things to say about the Microsoft Surface Pro tablets that the NFL uses. Included in his description of them was “undependable” and “there are very few games where there aren’t issues”.

As a result, coach Belichick declared that his staff will not use the tablets anymore and they will instead return the Patriots to the picture printouts.

Both the NFL and Microsoft were quick to respond on Tuesday after the comments.

“We respect Coach Belichick’s decision, but stand behind the reliability of Surface,” Microsoft 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.”

The NFL also put out a statement in the moments after Belichick’s comments.

“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,” the NFL’s statement said. “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.”

The NFL signed a $400 million deal with Microsoft in 2014 to be the league’s only usable sideline tablet, so Belichick has no other real options.

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