|ESPN.com: NFC East||[Print without images]|
Posted by ESPN.com's Matt Mosley
ARLINGTON, Texas -- Cowboys owner Jerry Jones stood in the middle of a brand-new locker room late Friday evening looking like a proud parent. Jones said he woke up at 2 a.m. the morning of the first preseason game inside new Cowboys Stadium and "wasn't a bit tired."
The Cowboys beat the Titans 30-10, but the star of the game was the stadium. There was an announced crowd of 75,720, and the number appeared to be pretty accurate. Just as Jones planned about four years ago, his players entered the field by walking through a luxury suite filled with fans. The only glitch was that wide receiver Roy Williams was about 10 seconds late for his introduction.
About an hour earlier, starting inside linebacker Bradie James delivered what appeared to be the most inspiring preseason game speech in recent memory. It was obvious from the start the Cowboys had more energy than the Titans. Jones had hoped his players would be inspired by the $1.2 billion stadium, and for at least one night, that appeared to happen.
"I thought maybe this stadium would create a certain expectation and responsibility for our players," Jones said. "And if tonight's performance is any indication, that's going to happen."
The parking lots opened two hours before Friday's 7 p.m. CT kickoff. And despite heavy construction on a major highway near the new stadium, the traffic seemed bearable. The Cowboys played their first game with the roof closed, but the huge windows high above each end zone allowed natural light to pour in. Before the game, I bumped into the stadium's principal architect, Bryan Trubey, and he marveled at what Jones had accomplished.
"I've never worked with an owner who basically wanted to learn everything about what we were doing so that he could talk about it with authority," Trubey said. "It was like Jerry was going back to school."
|Tim Heitman/US PRESSWIRE|
|An A.J. Trapasso punt hit the bottom of the stadium's 90-foot-high video board.|
When the sun went down, the fritted glass on the outside of the stadium shimmered under 8,000-watt lighting. Inside, Marion Barber had the first carry in the stadium's history and Williams caught the first pass.
Jones seemed to enjoy the controversy surrounding a Titans punt that hit the bottom of the stadium's 90-foot high video board. A free-agent rookie out of Ohio State named A.J. Trapasso booted the ball into the board and then later criticized the Cowboys for not anticipating that scenario.
Meanwhile, Jones had a twinkle in his eye as he talked about the video board's "entertainment value." He didn't come right out and say it, but I think he'd hoped opposing punters would have to kick around the enormous board. He also seemed to imply that Trapasso was aiming for the board.
"The board is not intrusive," Jones said. "You shouldn't have any issues with this board."
And speaking of intrusive, Jones is pulling back the curtain on the media. He's set it up where fans in field-level suites can stare at reporters as they lob questions at Wade Phillips and Tony Romo.
"What y'all do is very entertaining," Jones said to a surprised group of reporters. "I want to let people be in there looking at you."
When I finally left him, Jones was talking about how he wanted to hire the "best illustrator in the nation" to break down plays on his huge video board. He compared it to how John Madden diagrammed plays on the telestrator -- but indicated that his guy would have better penmanship. Here's the last thing I heard Jones saying as I departed the locker room:
"If you can't get excited about a day like this, they need to put you in a pine box. I can use this day as a solid week."
I didn't have the heart to tell him it was just a preseason game.