Last night the Dallas Cowboys opened their new $1.2 billion stadium—aka the Jones Mahal, a reference to owner Jerry Jones’ desire to make the venue one of the wonders of the sports world. The home team didn't disappoint, as the Cowboys posted a convincing 30-10 pre-season win over the visiting Tennessee Titans.
But Titans punter A.J. Trapasso did manage to expose a significant flaw in the stadium design when he kicked the ball into the 71-foot-tall HD video board—aka the Jerrytron—on a third-quarter punt, forcing the two teams to replay the down.
As it turns out, the 160-foot-long board is only 90 feet above the field, making it much too low for NFL punters, who routinely kick the ball that high. “We [Trapasso and fellow punter Craig Hentrich] were peppering that thing during warmups,” said Trapasso after the game, a rookie who now been a part of two YouTube-worthy plays this pre-season, having also executed a magician-like fake punt that went for a touchdown in the Hall of Fame game against the Buffalo Bills.
For his part, Jones tried to blame Trapasso for the scoreboard embarrassment, claiming that the Titans punter hit the Jerrytron on purpose. “If your desire is to punt the ball straight up and hard, I can do that,” Jones said, no doubt overestimating his leg strength. “The height that we’ve got it wouldn’t get normal kicks unless somebody just wanted to hit it.”
Nice try, Jerry, but it says here you’ll be raising that scoreboard before too long.
Meanwhile, Jones wasn’t the only one to make an ill-advised statement in the wake of Friday night’s game. “When you talk about the wow factor this is 100 times wow!” said Gil Brandt, who served as the Cowboys’ player personnel director for 29 years but now works for NFL.com. “This is totally unbelievable. It reminds me of when the Astrodome was built.”
Sorry, Brandt, but you probably don’t want to be drawing comparisons with the Astrodome, which was a marvel insofar as it was the first domed sports stadium, but never a good venue for watching (or playing) football or baseball.