The League

Neil Jacobs
Lawyer

Neil Jacobs

Criminal defense attorney President of the Maryland Criminal Defense Attorney's Association

A Modest Proposal

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For the man that always wants to hold people accountable for the consequences of their choices and actions, Roger Goodell has seemingly got himself and the NFL into a pickle when it comes to the controversy surrounding the video screens at the Cowboys new stadium. Let me say at the outset that I have no love nor admiration for the guy who has built what looks to me like a cross between a Roman coliseum and a futuristic toilet with the seat down, but I think on this issue Jerry Jones has the upper hand on the Commish. It seems that instead of spending all their time creating and implementing Roger's personal philosophy on crime and punishment, Goodell and the rest of the Spanish Inquisition should have spent some time understanding the law of contracts, because it seems that it's the NFL who effectively created the problem in this case, and therefore should be the ones to ultimately pay for it.

According to all reports, the video screens that hang in the middle of "The House That Jerry Built" are ninety feet off the field, which is actually five feet higher than NFL regulations require. Sure the configuration of these screens which stretch across most of the playing field are unique, but in the Roger Goodell world of law and order, it seems that Jerry has the law on his side. Sorry Roger, under the law, he who causes the problem, pays for the problem, and just like with Plaxico and Stallworth, though you might not have intended to do wrong, you are going to have to pay, and from all accounts, pay big.

Though it seems that there were already plans to raise the score board for an upcoming U2 concert, Jerry has been pretty adamant that he does not plan to make that permanent, if for no other reason than that the screens' position is perfect for his ultimate viewing pleasure from the owner's box. Jerry has also been vocal in claiming that the height is just fine as it is due to the fact that a punter would never hit the video-screens during the regular season because of the kicker's goal of "directional and distance punting." I wonder what color the trees are in his world, because I don't think the NFL has seen much directional punting since the late eighties.

My ultimate theory for why Jerry is seemingly taking a Laissez-faire attitude on this subject is because he has resigned himself to the fact that most of his Cowboys' offensive series will end with Tony Romo fumbling the ball or throwing an ill-timed interception anyways, so he doesn't really need to care about the punting game.

Unfortunately for Roger and the NFL, I do not believe that they can get past their major snafu, and because Jerry followed their rules, they will ultimately be the ones responsible for paying for the necessary changes to the stadium in order to make sure there is no interference by the screens during punts, while also making sure that Jerry is "kept whole" in response to whatever, if any, changes are made. My modest proposal to Goodell is that if he really needs to change things he should not raise the screen, but just lower the field.

By Neil Jacobs  |  August 26, 2009; 11:25 AM ET  | Category:  Dallas Cowboys , NFL , Plaxico Burress , Roger Goodell Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   Del.icio.us   StumbleUpon   Technorati  
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Wow, Mr. Jacobs. Who would've thought your most thoughtful piece yet would focus on those dreaded Cowboys. You've truly exhibited your impartial nature all too well. My favorite line, describing the Cowboys new stadium as "a futuristic toilet with the seat down" conjures up images in my mind that I didn't know existed. Keep up the insightful commentary.

Posted by: aisaacman | August 26, 2009 2:23 PM

Two thoughts:
1) It seems that even with the same 90 foot NFL specs, Bill Polian and the Colts hung a bar at 90 feet where the scoreboard/screen would be in THEIR new stadium and brought in their punter and had him try to hit it. He did so with regularity, so what did those practical Midwesterners do? They raised the height of the scoreboard--problem avoided. Take a lesson , Jerry ! I guess the scoreboard video screens aren't the only thing with a face lift in Cowboyland.
2) The suggestion that the new Cowboys stadium looks like a futuristic toilet with the seat down seems most appropriate for someone who is a big an ass as Jerry Jones.

Posted by: jmsbh | August 26, 2009 5:19 PM

As I posted on another op ed, the NFL set a MINIMUM standard...not and definitive standard, e.g. that the boards MUST be 85 feet. Just as other agencies, like the US govt, set minimum standards for issues, if a manufacturer KNOWS that their product will result in injury, then they are accountable. Failure to correct is a depraved indifference for which they are legally liable, regardless of whether it meets the minimum std. Since Jerry KNEW, because they tested it & hit it, he has an obligation to correct it. Just like the previous poster said, the Colts tested theirs and knew it could be hit eventhough it met the minimum requirement...so they moved it..which was the responsible and moral thing to do.

Posted by: hoosier01 | August 26, 2009 6:03 PM

Great article. Insightful and clever as usual. Looking forward to more.

Posted by: MFoxM | August 29, 2009 2:32 PM

Well done, Neil.

Now,the funniest thing about this whole debacle is how the NFL has essentially bowed to Jerry Jones. Since he's come in as GM, Goodell has declared that he is never wrong and what he says goes.....except in this case. The NFL fines players for socks, visor shade,too much tape on cleats and other idiotic things, but won't force an owner to fix an issue that could affect the game?So to fix it, they will replay the down?? How about fixing a case when it actually has an affect on the game, Roger?

Posted by: nenewallace | August 30, 2009 10:23 AM

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