The Denver Broncos sure do seem to love their Microsoft tablets.
Just two weeks ago, Microsoft's Surface tablet suffered a very public black eye when CBS broadcast announcers called out the devices for not working properly for the New England Patriots during parts of the second quarter of the NFL's AFC Championship game. The NFL later blamed the failure on network problems, not the devices themselves. But by then the damage to Microsoft's brand was done. For the moment, anyway.
The Patriots went on to lose the game to the Denver Broncos—most likely NOT because of the Surface troubles. And at yesterday's Super Bowl 50, the Broncos celebrated their upset victory by writing “World! Champs!” on the device. More importantly, CBS cameras captured Broncos cornerback Aqib Talib excitedly holding up the tablet displaying the phrase immediately after the big game, with presumably millions of people watching around the world.
While Microsoft reportedly paid the NFL some $400 million to have its Surface be the official tablet on the sidelines, it's unclear if this moment was an unscripted celebration or part of the larger business deal. Perhaps it was a “makeup call” designed to help atone for the loose lips about the earlier glitch.
Either way, the move has to make Microsoft feel better about its NFL investment after a season marked by announcers and players mistakenly referring to the Surfaces as “iPads,” and a couple of incidents where quarterbacks chucked the devices in disgust (Green Bay's Aaron Rodgers) or banged them on their heads in frustration (Cleveland's Johnny Manziel).
The only thing that could have made the redemption more complete was if Talib—or anyone—had cited the Surface by name during the celebration. You know, the way Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning made sure to mention—over and over—that he wasn't just going to have a beer after the game, it was going to be a Budweiser.