Shutdown Corner - NFL

I don't know why there's any ongoing controversy or discussion about moving the video screen at the new Cowboys stadium. It's in the way. Punts hit it. So move it.

Call me a purist if you want to, but I believe that the number one purpose of a football stadium should be to host football games. And in hosting those games, I don't believe it's too much to ask that the building itself not play an active role in determining the outcome of the game.

It's not asking much, really. You need a big, flat area that can fit a football field, and then a reasonable amount of room above it so flying footballs are unimpeded. That's all.

Now, some people may tell you that the new Cowboys Stadium has that, and that the placement of the video board, 90 feet above the field, isn't a problem. And when I say "some people," I mean, of course, Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones. Jones has so far refused to move his massive TV, saying that it's not a problem.

"If you look at how you punt the football, unless you're trying to hit the scoreboard, you punt the ball to get downfield," he said. "You certainly want to get some hangtime, but you punt the ball to get downfield, and you sure don't punt the ball down the middle. You punt it off to the side."

Oh, so Jerry's a punting expert. And if it does hit the scoreboard, Jerry?

"If you hit the screen, you just kick it over."

Oh, okay. "Do-overs," you mean. Well, as long as you have a plan. I mean, we're talking about a multi-billion dollar enterprise here, where head coaching jobs, playoff appearances and untold dollars are riding on the outcome of every single game, but that there's no reason that we shouldn't have "do-overs."

What's good enough for a group of hyperactive 6-year-olds playing Wiffle Ball in little Jimmy's backyard with the inconveniently-placed maple tree should absolutely be good enough for the National Football League.

Fortunately, we don't have to just take Jerry's word for it. We can also listen to the opinions of people out there who are actual punting experts. I call them "punters." There are only two of them who aren't employed by the Cowboys who have also punted in the new Cowboys Stadium. Let's see what they have to say. Mr. Trapasso?

"They are good kicks that were hitting it [in warm-ups]," Trapasso said. "It’s not going to happen every time, but it’s there, and it has to be addressed. A guy like [Mike] Scifres out in San Diego is going to hit it every time. He has a huge leg. I don’t know how much further up it could go, but it’s in the way."

And Mr. Hentrich?

"Probably somewhere around a five-second punt is going to hit it and some of the guys in the league wouldn't be able to punt here if it's not raised; they'd just be nonstop hitting it. I don't know what the people were thinking. I guess they should have tested things out before they put that thing in place. It'll have to be raised."

The options appear to be these: 1) We believe the unbiased opinions of the two opposing punters who have punted there, and we move the scoreboard, or 2) We save Jerry Jones from having to admit there may be a flaw in his new stadium, and we go into the 2009 season with "do-overs."

I'm not unsympathetic to Jerry Jones here. The stadium is his baby, in his eyes it's perfect, and besides, he checked with the NFL beforehand about the height of the video board, and the NFL cleared it. If he insists that the NFL pay part or all of the costs to move the thing, I don't blame him.

But it does have to be moved. We do not have "do-overs" in the NFL, because we're adults and we're professionals. The thing impedes play, so it has to be moved. It's that simple.

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