Posted by ESPN.com's Matt Mosley
SAN ANTONIO -- One of the advantages of having listened to Jerry Jones speak in public settings for the past seven years is that I now have a clue what he's trying to say. He's one of the best quotes in the league -- as long as you leave before he contradicts himself.
And during his annual state-of-the-team address Tuesday at the Alamodome, Jones was at his scatter-shooting best. He started out saying the 2009 Dallas Cowboys were as prepared -- "mentally and physically" -- as any team he's ever been around, which apparently includes his beloved Arkansas Razorbacks of the early 1960s.
In a strange but delightful transition, Jones then introduced someone from the Ford Motor Company who touted the underrated "fan activation zone" in the Alamodome's south parking lot. By the time Jones commandeered the microphone, reporters were desperate for a salient point -- or at least a free meal.
That's when Jones rewarded everyone with his first of an estimated 17 mentions of the new Cowboys Stadium, which will play host to its first regular-season game Sept. 20 when the New York Giants come to town -- unless the owner's able to book the Jonas Brothers again. Not only did Jones mention the $1.15 billion stadium several times, but he pretty much suggested that it could be the springboard for potential playoff success. And to think, we've spent so much time fretting about Tony Romo and Roy Williams.
"I think our team will play to the level of the new stadium," said Jones. "We've spent a lot of time over the years talking about playing for the Cowboys, what it means, the visibility of the team, the interest in the team. We're the most-watched team there is in the NFL; we're the most-watched programming in all of television ... the Dallas Cowboys. That's fact."
Jones went on to describe Cowboys Stadium as "one of the most important venues in the world." The Vatican's certainly had its moments, but its sightlines leave something to be desired.
At one point last fall Jones actually told me Cowboys Stadium someday would be as recognizable as the White House -- and he really believes that. But after hours of intense Google searches, I'm having a difficult time identifying a new stadium that has led a team to playoff success. I know the Ford family is still taking a wait-and-see approach in Detroit. And even though the Yankees lead the AL East right now, they had a bit of success in their previous home.
In the past, the Cowboys haven't always turned emotional stadium moments into wins. In last December's farewell to Texas Stadium, the Cowboys lost to the Baltimore Ravens. And when the Triplets -- Emmitt, Troy and Michael -- were inducted into the Ring of Honor a few years earlier, the Washington Redskins scored two late touchdowns to win, 14-13.
Do we really think Giants defensive ends Justin Tuck and Osi Umenyiora will be so in awe of Jones' groundbreaking video boards that they'll comment on the amazing clarity in the huddle? Something tells me Tom Coughlin will use the stadium's grand debut as extra motivation.
Jones said Tuesday that the stadium would provide his team with "energy" and said the visibility the stadium brings will be a definite "intangible" for the Cowboys. In fact, I'm told that he took several players on a stadium tour recently -- and even offered a discount from the regular $15 rate. Cowboys second-year running back Felix Jones, a former Razorback himself, joined the owner on the tour. He said he agrees with the other Jones that the stadium might be something to rally around.
"It's motivating to go over to the stadium," said Felix Jones with a wide smile on his face. "I think it's an inspiration to have a chance to play in it, and I'm sure it will help us. [Jerry] welcomed us to our new home and said we have to take care of it like it's our home."
When he wasn't talking about the new stadium, Jones was defending coach Wade Phillips and Romo -- often without prompting. He also found time to praise Williams for locating the weight room this offseason and his apparently unprecedented act of showing up two weeks early for offseason workouts. You may be a bit worried about the receiver position, but Jones said he's not at all concerned. He said it was his belief in players such as Williams, Patrick Crayton and Miles Austin that made Terrell Owens expendable.
But it's obvious this season is about one thing: the monument that Jones (and Arlington taxpayers) built to honor himself. Will this be the first stadium of the modern era to be named a team captain?
It will if Jones has anything to do with it.