New England Patriots coach Bill Belichick is a man of very few words. His press conferences and time with the media are typically short-lived and reveal very little about Belichick’s true feelings.
That is, unless you ask him about technology – sideline tablets, in particular.
Belichick went on an epic five-minute rant the other day about how bad the NFL’s Microsoft Surface tablets are, and how he’s officially done using them. His comments about the league’s partner, Microsoft, were so harsh that it led the company to release a statement regarding the situation.
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It sounds like he’s not the only one unhappy with the performance of those seemingly troublesome devices. Several Seahawks players have echoed Belichick's sentiment.
“Honestly, I love the paper much, much more,” said Seahawks linebacker K.J. Wright, via ESPN. “I can’t explain it. It’s just something that you’ve always been used to. It’s kind of like when the cell phones come, older people struggle with it. I’ve been used to paper my whole career. I just like to stick with it. So I don’t blame him on that.”
The main reason? Their inability to operate while users are wearing gloves. And as you know, most players in the NFL do wear gloves on their hands, making it impossible to use the tablets.
“When I have gloves on, I can’t use [the tablet] because they don’t work against gloves, so I’ll be trying to swipe left, swipe right, and it just stays still. So I throw it, and I get the paper copy.”
Earl Thomas, one of the smartest safeties in the league, apparently feels the same, according to Richard Sherman.
“Earl likes the paper copy,” Sherman said. “I don’t think he’s technologically averse, but sometimes you have a hard time swiping it with the gloves on so you’ve got to take the glove off and do all that, and he doesn’t feel like doing all that so he gets the paper copy and can just flip it.”
One thing tablets could have that paper (obviously) doesn’t is video. This isn’t something that is being used on sidelined presently, but it’s an idea the NFL tested in the preseason.
Not surprisingly, players were big fans of it.
“We did experiment with the video. I loved it,” Doug Baldwin said. “I would prefer to have that if we could. Obviously it’s a little different from position to position. Some guys like the still images because then they can get more of the information that they need, especially on defense. But I personally like the video as well.”
The NFL will stand by Microsoft’s Surface tablets given its contractual obligations, but it’s clear something needs to be done to improve their functionality.