Talking point: Videoboard in way of play
Tennessee Titans coach Jeff Fisher was firm in his stance Saturday that the jumbo videoboard at Cowboys Stadium presents "a lot of issues" and the NFL's competition committee that he co-chairs is expected to have a conference call in the near future to discuss the problem.
Titans backup punter A.J. Trapasso hit the large video screen that hangs over the field during the third quarter of the $1.2 billion stadium's inaugural preseason game Friday night. There was confusion because the officiating crew apparently did not see the ball strike the board. Fisher threw his red flag, asking for a replay, even though the play was not reviewable.
"It wasn't [reviewable] last night ... not sure about the future," Mike Pereira, the NFL's vice president of officiating, said via a text message.
As it stands, the play will be repeated and one competition committee member said the clock is re-set to the time of the original snap of the ball on "do-overs." Pereira replied that re-setting the clock "sounds logical" after initially telling the Los Angeles Times what Fisher also suggested to ESPN -- that a team could strategically attempt to run out the clock by repeatedly punting it into the board.
"Even it becomes [reviewable], you don't want to be forced to use one of your challenges on a play like that," Fisher said. "So, the first thing we have to discuss from an officiating standpoint is that, as of now, no one is assigned to watch the flight of the ball. Who determines whether it hits the board or not?"
Fisher took exception to Cowboys owner Jerry Jones' postgame suggestion that the videoboard wasn't a problem unless a punter was attempting to hit it.
"There are a number of punters in this league who are capable of hitting that board naturally," Fisher said.
According to The Associated Press, Trapasso acknowledged it takes a really good kick to nail the underside of the boards, then noted that most NFL punters have the leg strength to do it. He hit it for the first time on his third warm-up kick, when he wasn't completely loose.
"It's nothing that is going to happen every time, but it's there," Trapasso said. "I don't know how much further up it can go, but it's in the way. ... It does not matter where you kick it from, it is just right there in the middle of the field. It's always something that you're going to be thinking about."
Fisher did not say that a competition committee discussion had been scheduled but said, "we'll discuss it soon."
Jones was adamant that the video screen was built to "league specifications and he had no intentions of raising it to a higher level, but a source indicated that a preliminary discussion already has occurred as to the logistics and costs of such a change. The source said any correction would cost at least $2 million.
The discussion was specific enough, the source said, that if it is safe and feasible to make an alteration to the screen, the Cowboys have a window of opportunity after their Sept. 28 "Monday Night Football" home game against Carolina because they do not return to Cowboys Stadium until Oct. 25 vs. Atlanta. Jones reportedly planned to temporarily raise the board by 25 feet to accommodate sightlines for a scheduled U2 concert in October.
A Cowboys official said that there was no "practice" for the team prior to Friday night's game to determine whether there would be a problem. Cowboys punter Matt McBriar said after the game he did not think it was an issue.
As for Fisher's reference that there were a number of game-related issues at the stadium, he did not go into detail but did suggest that speakers inside the board turned toward the field created communication problems with quarterback Kerry Collins.
Chris Mortensen is a senior NFL analyst for ESPN. Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.
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