Sports Outside the Beltway

Cowboys Stadium’s video board OK’d for ’09

Jerry Jones can keep his video boards right where they are, at least for this season.

NFL commissioner Roger Goodell on Friday clarified rules on punts that ricochet off the high-definition monitors hanging over most of the field at the new Cowboys Stadium. Perhaps the key part of his announcement is that the guidelines cover only this season, an indication the league may force Jones to raise the boards before the 2010 season, which ends with the Super Bowl in his building.

The league clearly wouldn’t want even the remote possibility of a championship decided by a ball hitting a TV screen within a punter’s reach.

Why should any football game be decided by something not part of the playing field? This isn’t golf, where trees and water hazards are part of the golf course.

Long-term changes can be made only at the annual rules meeting. However, Goodell noted that Rule 3, Section 1 of the league rule book allows for changes new policy to be enacted for the current season only.

Jones was not immediately available for comment.

The video boards are the signature item of the $1.15 billion stadium because of their clarity and size: 60 yards long, stretching from 20-yard line to 20-yard line.

How are video screens the signature item of any sporting arena? I know if I’m a fan watching a football game in person, my eyes are on the field not a video screen. Those I would only check for instant replays.

The problem is they are 90 feet above the field.

While that is 5 feet above the league’s standard, the ease Tennessee punters had kicking balls into the boards before — and once during — last Saturday night’s debut game indicates that standard might need revision.

You think so?

Downs will still be replayed “if a ball in play strikes a video board, guide wire, sky cam, or any other object,” but now the game clock will be reset to the time when the first play was snapped. Any penalties during the wiped-out play won’t count, except for personal fouls.

Also, if officials on the field don’t see the ball hitting the board, the replay assistant can now initiate a booth review at any time. If the replay assistant doesn’t ask for a review, coaches can challenge under normal challenge rules.

All the above makes sense. I think the boards should be moved, they will interfere with the flow of a game at some point. However, since it cost 40 million dollars to install them, I don’t see any action being taken other than the above ground rules. Who knew football would start sounding like major league baseball.

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