So let me set the stage. Jerry Jones spends $1 billion dollars of his own money to build one of the most beautiful stadiums in America. They've solved a bunch a problems with the old stadium, including how to close the roof during inclement weather. Jones spared no expense to prove the point that everything's bigger in Texas... including the scoreboard. The 140 foot long hi def scoreboard is the first one to ever be hung in the center of an NFL stadium, and cost roughly $30 million to construct and hang 90 feet off the ground. Everything was in place for the first pre-season game to be a showcase of the new stadium. Then Jerry Jones met Titans punter A.J. Trapasso.
During the first pre-season game at new Cowboys Stadium, Trapasso made a routine punt that bounced off the giant scoreboard. No one knew what to do. Ultimately they did the play over, but time had run off the clock. So this week, the NFL clarified what is to be done. Instead of making Jerry Jones raise the scoreboard, they've instituted a stupid new rule, for this season, where if the ball hits the scoreboard, the entire play has to be done over and time has to be reset.
Now, to give you some idea of why this rule sucks, let me tell you a story. Growing up in Miami, I went to the Orange Bowl to see the Dolphins play. I was sitting in the upper bowl of the stadium, around 20 rows up. I'd estimate that I was about 120 feet or so above ground level. Reggie Roby thunders a punt that I watched float up from the ground, up to eye level, raise up another 5-10 feet or so and then go screaming towards the ground. I took a quick second to look around, and you could see the entire section followed the ball up and down like it was a tennis match.
The point is, I have no doubt that basically any NFL punter (and most of the kickers on kickoffs) should be able to boom a ball 90 feet upwards, if so required. So, expect to see about 4-5 do-overs a game in Dallas. Oh, and expect to see the rule re-visited when a smart quarterback realizes he's out of options and tosses the ball straight up in the air, hits the scoreboard and gets to do the entire play over again.
And since the Super Bowl is being held in Dallas next year, Jerry Jones had better figure something out between this season and next. How do you think the NFL would like it if a play like Eli Manning's Great Escape was negated because it dinged the scoreboard?