Back in May 2013, Microsoft and the National Football League inked a $400 million multi-year deal to bring Microsoft devices to the sidelines. Well, Surface tablets debuted on an NFL sideline for the first time during last night’s Hall of Fame game between the Buffalo Bills and the New York Giants in Canton, Ohio.
The game marked the beginning of the NFL preseason, a prelude to the regular season, which begins on Sept. 4. The matchup served as tech practice for coaches, who are used to calling plays from a laminated sheet of paper or an old-fashioned clipboard.
Bills coach Doug Marrone told the Associated Press after the matchup that his tablet did not immediately work. However, issues with the device were resolved by the second half of the game, and he ended up liking it “a lot.”
The NFL and Microsoft look to enhance play calling and analysis through their partnership. With a tablet, a head coach will be able to review the images of a play right after it occurs. In turn, coaches are in a better position to challenge play calls that referees on the field may have been ruled incorrectly. Improved decision-making could change the outcome of games. The NFL will lock the tablets after use.
Coaches don’t have to rely on binders full of printed images of their opponents anymore, either. Tablets can house photographs of the opposing offense and defense for reference during the game. When they aren’t in use, the devices are stored in a locked temperature-controlled cart.
Xbox One owners will also reap the benefits of the NFL and Microsoft deal. With “The NFL on Xbox,” you can view players and live competition side-by-side on your TV screen. This feature can be helpful to fantasy football players who need to keep up with specific individuals on game day.
“From the use of instant replay to the yellow first-down line that has become an important element of the at-home television viewing experience, the NFL is committed to leveraging technology to improve our game for coaches, players and fans,” said NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell. “We’re thrilled to be teaming with a true innovator like Microsoft to shape the future of the NFL game experience, both on-field and in the living room.”