NFL players have come up with another way to utilize the Microsoft Surface tablet on the football field.
After Denver beat Carolina, 24-10, on Sunday to win Super Bowl 50, CBS showed Broncos cornerback Aqib Talib holding up a Surface tablet with the phrase “World! Champs!” drawn on the device.
It’s unclear who drew the message, but it was nice publicity for Microsoft, which has had its share of PR struggles with its NFL tablet this season.
Thanks to Microsoft’s $400 million, five-year contract it inked with the NFL in 2013, players and coaches have had access to the custom-built Surface tablets for the past two seasons with an application that lets them be more efficient in how they review past plays. The idea is to replace the traditional printed paper black-and-white images of plays to analyze previous possessions, and instead use the waterproof tablets that allow for annotations on each photo with the Surface Pen.
The NFL introduced players and coaches to the Surface Pro 2 tablet last year, and this season Microsoft is upgrading the devices to a ruggedized, weatherproof version of its Surface Pro 3 tablet, which offers a bigger and thinner screen, lighter weight, clearer images, and a pen that can be used in four different colors.
Microsoft ran into some NFL Surface-related marketing issues this season. More recently during the AFC Championship, New England became “frustrated” afterits Surface tablets stopped working for a brief period. The NFL said it was a problem related to a “network cable malfunction” — not the Surface tablet itself, which Microsoft says has functioned without a single problem in the past two seasons.
Back in September during the season opener, Al Michaels mistakenly called the Surface an “iPad” on national television. This seems to be a recurring problem for Microsoft — last season, commentators referred to the Surface as an “iPad-like tool.” It happened on more than one occasion last season, with Trent Dilfer calling the tablet an iPad during a Monday Night game, too.
Then there was a server power issue during last month’s Monday Night Football game between Dallas and Washington — but the NFL said the problem wasn’t with the Surface tablets themselves.
CBS didn’t show much live footage from the broadcast of players and coaches using the Surface during the Super Bowl, causing some to wonder if they were being used.
No Microsoft Surface tablets being used on sidelines today? #SuperBowl
— Brian Sozzi (@BrianSozzi) February 8, 2016
However, they were definitely utilized during the post-game celebration.
Microsoft surface reduced to glorified etch-a-sketch
— Alexander Lohr (@AlexWithStripes) February 8, 2016