Cowboys' Do-Over Spells T-R-O-U-B-L-E
“And I shall not be moved!”
Football at Cowboys’ Stadium is being tweaked with applications from traditional backyard football, tennis, Pinball arcade, mini-golf (or “Putt-Putt”), and video games.
And in Texas, size matters – the bigger, the better. The franchise’s new, Texas-sized video screen/scoreboard has replaced wide receiver Terrell Owens as the team’s main distraction.
The Cowboys’ theme for the 2009 season is “Ours Is Bigger!” “America’s Team” now has “America’s Video Screen!”
The NFL decided not to take any action for this season regarding the Dallas Cowboys’ video scoreboard that hovers 90 feet above the field at their brand new stadium.
90 feet is the same distance as it is from home plate to first base in MLB. It is noteworthy that this massive structure, the mother of all scoreboards, with 30 million light bulbs, spans 60 yards from 20 yard line to 20 yard line, hanging over the field like that spaceship from Close Encounters of the Third Kind.
In a memo sent to every team, Commissioner Roger Goodell said if a punt hits the board or any guidewire, skycam, or any other object at any other stadium, the particular down or play will be replayed, just as the rule stated before Tennessee’s A.J. Traspasso’s punt hit it last week in the first football game at the stadium.
The game clock will also be reset to the time reflected before the "do over."
Specifically, if a ball strikes the video scoreboard, the play will be dead at that point and the down will be replayed from the previous spot. No penalties will count, other than personal fouls.
If the officials on the field do not notice the ball striking the video board, the replay assistant will be able to produce a replay review, even if the incident occurs outside the final two minutes of each half, the normal time period during which the replay assistant has the power to call upon the referee to assume the position at the portable replay booth.
Then if the replay official does not believe the ball struck the video board but the head coach of either team thinks otherwise, a red-flag challenge will be available.
Oh, oh! This means that if the ball “doinks” the video board with fewer than two minutes remaining in either half and if the replay assistant doesn't notice the collision, the coaches might not be able to challenge the outcome.
This rule includes all remaining preseason games, all regular-season games, and any postseason games that might be played at the new venue. Goodell cited Rule 3, Section 1 in taking the unconventional approach of modifying the official playing rules beyond the normal offseason procedure for doing so.
The do-over rule will be in place for the remainder of this season but the issue could be revisited in the future.
The NFL is doing nothing except hoping this issue goes away while ignoring the fact that the "do-over" rule could create several problems.
The NFL adopted a backyard football rule honored for decades: if the football hits a telephone wire, tree branch, etc., just run the play again.
Maybe the league should deploy an additional official for each Cowboys Stadium game with the assignment to follow the ball on each punt. Like an official in professional tennis, the referee could yell “Fault!”
Perhaps the NFL needs to add replay cameras for all angles that a football may bump the video scoreboard.
Regarding the personal foul penalties, what if the ball hits the board and one of the players on the punt team sees it and stops but a player on the receiving team does not notice it and then drills the opponent with a hard hit?
It will not happen, but what if a quarterback intentionally hits the video scoreboard on a Hail Mary pass play? Is that intentional grounding or a do-over?
If I was a quarterback playing at Cowboys’ Stadium, I would be tempted to bounce the football off the video board and then run and catch my own pass! I would call it “Immaculate Reception II.”
Similar to the NBA’s slam-dunk competition, the NFL could have a video screen create-a-play competition: “Punt, Pass, and Doink!”
Would intentionally punting into the scoreboard be a nice setup for a fake-punt play? Wow! Fans will just adore having more replays to endure!
We may witness a game changing, playoff-determining play that will not count. Imagine having a season-ending injury that may be suffered on a play that will not count.
Well, if the Dallas Cowboys are allowed to have an object of obstruction in play, it is only fair that all of the remaining 31 NFL teams be given the option of having a similar attraction.
For example, my Carolina Panthers could have a replica plane of Orville and Wilbur Wright hanging or floating 90 feet above midfield at Bank of America Stadium.
What will happen if a punt hits Jerry Jones? Never mind. Let’s think outside of the box and outside of clichés!
I have an alternate, simple solution: give punters the option of kicking the football above and over the video board, not just underneath or around it.
This solution will establish all-time hang-time punt records for the NFL. The punt returner will automatically signal for a fair-catch, theoretically, reducing injuries.
Want to give punters an incentive to avoid punting into the video board? Assess a delay of game penalty and a $10,000 fine for each kick that bumps the scoreboard.
I read that the Cowboys will raise (and disconnect) the video screen at least once in October for Bono. U2 will perform October 12. Its stage has to fit.
Why not just leave the screen higher after the concert? The video screen can be raised for a concert but it’s too expensive and too much trouble to raise for a football game?
Oh, now I get it. The ticket holders in the expensive, field-level seats would needlessly strain their necks to see a raised video scoreboard!
The video board is now at eye-level for owners of luxury suites and upper-level ticket holders. On Madden NFL 10, this video board casts a huge shadow, covering almost 60 percent of the football field.
In backyards all across our United States, kids can pretend to be Tony Romo, fumbling the snap, picking the football, back up, backing up to pass, the throw is spiraling high, it hits a tree (a.k.a. the Cowboys’ scoreboard), and it’s a do-over!
On ESPN Primetime highlights, Chris Berman will say “the punter kicks, back...back…back...DOINK! So they then punted again.”
After throwing an interception for a New York Giants touchdown, losing the game for Dallas late in the fourth quarter, Tony Romo explains to the press with a smirk on his face: “Oh, my God! My eyes were, like, distracted and, uh, glued to the Cowboys cheerleaders’ very huge breasts, bouncing on our video board! Talk about instant replay! Review this!”
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