- The Washington Times - Sunday, August 30, 2009

Scoreboard squabble

Jerry Jones should have known when to quit. Then again, the Dallas Cowboys owner has never known when to quit.

During his radio show Friday, addressing how the NFL allowed him to keep his oversized video screens hanging too low from the roof of his oversized new stadium, Jones said: “You can anticipate the ball hitting the board from time to time. There’s no reason why this can’t be something [for punters] to deal with very similar to the way you’d deal with the wind in your face or with elements; rain, sleet or snow.”

As my grandmother would have said, “Oy.”

No, Jerry. No. No. No. You said it yourself — “elements.” And elements such as, oh, wind, rain, sleet and snow, are acts of nature. Some might call them acts of God. A 600-ton, 25,760-square-foot technological freak suspended over a football field from 20-yard line to 20-yard line is neither an element nor an act of God. It is an act of Jerry. Regardless of his vast powers and influence, it is not the same thing.

But there, 90 feet above the field, the NFL decreed, it shall hang. Let the punts strike where they may. Any punt plunking the boards will result in a do-over, thereby compromising the integrity of the product the league so fiercely protects and defends.

Jerry won. He should have said, “Thanks, guys,” and left it at that, but Jerry never knows when to quit, so he had to utter silly things about elements. But the league had no choice because its own bright minds determined that 85 feet was sufficient height for this multipixeled monstrosity, a height no punter would ever reach. And Jerry, to his credit, tacked on an extra 5 feet. Yeah, that should do it.

Unfortunately, he didn’t have an actual punter test the height, as the Indianapolis Colts did with a punter, who several times struck a test beam 90 feet high (or low) at Lucas Oil Stadium, after which the Colts said the heck with it and put their big video boards on the sides and out of the flight path.

It took the Tennessee Titans’ punters, during warmups and a game, to produce the same findings. By then it was too late. Some believe that Jones should take the high road and raise the board, but it’s his $40 million baby, and he was simply following the league’s orders — and then some. This one is on the NFL, and we might see some funny things transpire.


“Guys came in here and didn’t really care about the game. Green Bay came in here on a mission, and that was to prove they were a good football team.” — Arizona Cardinals coach Ken Whisenhunt after his starters trailed 38-10 at halftime en route to a 44-37 preseason loss Friday

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