Criticizing The Criticism: VideoBoardPunterGate

Now, I've never been one to pass up an opportunity to criticize Jerry Jones, because, as I pointed out days ago, it is (a) really fun and (b) a time-honored Dallas tradition, like burgers and beers at Club Schmitz or watching skaters fall on the ice rink at the Galleria. But this San Francisco Chronicle article, titled "Venues all about dollars and nonsense" is either too much or, depending on how bitter this writer was aiming to come off, not enough. Let's get started:

"If you're not careful as the owner of a sports franchise, you'll be defined by your arrogance and corporate-style greed. The Dallas Cowboys and New York Yankees are just plain reckless."

Hey, I didn't know Susan Sarandon wrote for the Chronicle. Corporate-style greed? Just because our stadium is a palatial though slightly flawed palace of wealth and football doesn't mean you have to decry the business practices of Jerry Jones. Sure, he might be a bit of a sidewinding sextogenarian, but he's our sidewinding sextogenarian.

"The Cowboys' $1.2 billion new facility isn't a stadium, it's a television show. Patrons should be advised to not bother watching the players, but rather a gigantic television screen looming above 60% of the field. I'm not sure of the exact dimensions, but its roughly the size of Los Gatos. Thousands of fans can enjoy an entire game without a single glance at real life."

Oh, solid point. Speaking of never seeing a football game in real life, how's Alex Smith working out?

"There's just one problem: They forgot about punting. The contraption is only 90 feet of the ground, as the Tenessee Titans warmed up before the stadium's first exhibition game, punter Craig Hentrich crashed balls off the bottom of the screen 'probably a dozen times.' The Titans A.J. Trapasso drilled a carom shot during the game, causing utter confusion, to say nothing of incredulous anger."

Yes, yes, we can kick this long-dead horse a few more times. First, it's not a contraption. It's the biggest HDTV in the free world; show some respect. Secondly, yes, it's only 90 feet off the ground, only five more feet than the league requires. As far as incredulous anger, well, I must've missed that part. I remember Trapasso smiling and laughing.

"Here's the beauty of it: Cowboys owner Jerry Jones claims it's "not an issue," and has no plans to raise the screens, although an NFL investigation is likely to force his hand (The league is partly to blame, imposing only an 85 foot minimum in such matters). Until that happens, every punt will have video-game implications."

Okay, you've got us here. It is an issue. But the beauty of the situation has to be the screen itself. I mean, have you seen the clarity? The sharpness? The size? Count yourselves lucky, San Francisco, that you too will have an opportunity to bask in the JerryTron's redeeming glow, if only for a few hours this Saturday, before returning to that cardboard box named Bill Walsh Field at Monster Park.

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