NFL Nation: Bono
Posted by ESPN.com's Matt Mosley
The fact that a free-agent rookie punter for the Titans booted a ball off the super-sized video board at Cowboys Stadium on Friday quickly became one of the biggest stories in the league. The fact that Peter King led his Monday Morning Quarterback column with a punting story over Brett Favre's debut with the Vikings is pretty remarkable in itself.
Jones is one of the most respected owners in the league, but I'm afraid folks on the NFL's competition committee aren't going to give him the benefit of the doubt. I thought the following anecdote from Colts general manager Bill Polian was pretty telling:
"The irony is that our stadium architect (at new Lucas Oil Stadium) wanted to hang the video boards the same way in our stadium," Polian told King. "So we put a metal beam about 90 feet above the ground and had our punter at the time, Hunter Smith, punt the ball up there trying to hit it. He hit it the majority of the time. That's why we put our replay boards on the wall."
The message is clear: If Hunter Smith can reach the 90-foot-high scoreboard, something's wrong. I've read several stories suggesting that Jones should be embarrassed by what happened Friday. Why didn't he do his homework on how high punters kick the ball?
Well, my opinion is that Jones knew this was going to happen. And the man's shameless, which makes it tough to embarrass him. With this controversy, his new stadium has been part of the news cycle for three days now. Fans and reporters alike are fascinated by the implications of having a scoreboard that's in the field of play.
It's like Jones owns a miniature golf course -- and he can't have enough windmills. He had a sly grin on his face Friday as he explained how normal NFL punts shouldn't hit the enormous scoreboard. But I think he had to know this would happen.
The Red Sox have the Green Monster, the Cowboys now have the Blue HD Monster. When Jones dropped the phrase "entertainment value" on me late Friday evening, he wasn't talking about how great the screen looked. He envisions a situation in which punters have to take the scoreboard into account and make sure they kick around it.
In a lot of ways, rookie punter A.J. Trapasso did Jones a huge favor. He gave Friday's debut a memorable sideshow. In the end, I think Jones will be forced to raise the video board about 20 feet. A Cowboys player told me Friday night that he'd heard the Cowboys were already raising the scoreboard in October to make room for U2's giant stage. ESPN's Chris Mortensen backed that scenario up with his report Sunday.
If the Cowboys can raise the scoreboard for Bono, they should extend Jeff Feagles the same courtesy.