Cowboys owner Jerry Jones’s insistence on building the grandest sports venue in America may have undermined his team in a season-opening 20-19 loss to the Giants on Sunday. Back in 2008, before the $1.2 billion monstrosity was completed, I received a personal tour, during which Jones told me how the “natural light” would be such a beautiful feature.
But then this past Sunday, that bright sunlight in the 6 p.m. hour may have contributed to three incomplete passes. The sure-handed Pro Bowl tight end Jason Witten lost two of those balls in the sun, and Dez Bryant lost one too. When Witten was asked if the sun was a factor, he told reporters, “Yeah, it was. But you still should make the plays . . . The sun kind of got on us a little bit, but we still need to make those plays. I need to make them.”
Then there was Terrance Williams inexplicably staying in bounds after catching a short pass at the end of the game. If I’m the former Baylor wide receiver today, I’m telling everyone who will listen that I couldn’t see the sideline because of the sun.
Witten, who was targeted for passes by rookie quarterback Dak Prescott fourteen times in the game, typically serves as the ultimate safety blanket, but even the future Hall of Famer couldn’t overcome Jones’s vanity. The Cowboys owner loves the way the glass looks on television, and it seems he’d rather roll the dice on the sunlight possibly costing his team a game than draw the curtains on a gorgeous afternoon in North Texas.
To his credit, Jones admitted the glare may have caused some issues. Then, he offered reporters this: “I thought the sun was pretty good out there today, really, relative to coming in from the east.”
Well, guess where it sets, Jerry. I know there’s some nice dark curtains available because Jerry had them drawn during the NCAA men’s Final Four at AT&T Stadium. If Bill Parcells had been coaching Sunday, he would’ve lit into Jones after the game. Jason Garrett was mum on the topic, though.
“I don’t really want to get into that,” Garrett told reporters after the game.
The Cowboys are now 27-30 since the stadium opened in 2009. The sunlight issue came under scrutiny yesterday, but it’s not the only design decision that comes to bear on game day. Two years ago, Tony Romo admitted the team had to go to a “silent count” in a home game due to loud Texans fans. This is a remarkable place for fans to visit, but it seems to be anything but a home-field advantage for the Cowboys.
I asked Prescott after the game if he felt like the sunlight impaired his receivers’ vision, but, he said, he hadn’t been able to ask them yet. Think about a rookie quarterback in the first game of his NFL career possibly being undone by sunlight and a clueless wide receiver. He’ll never use that excuse, but he needed all the help he could get Sunday.
Jones should tap into his ringmaster brain and come up with a fun way to draw the curtains. The Seahawks have former players or celebrities raise the 12th Man flag before games. The Cowboys could ask some of their greats from the past to help pull the curtains closed. Or I’m sure there’s an official tint service of the Dallas Cowboys. Keep the nice views of the outdoors and just darken the windows a bit.
As someone tweeted in my timeline, “it’s the most Jerry Jones thing ever” to allow passes to be impacted by sunlight in an indoor facility. And because of the massive interest in the Cowboys no matter how mediocre the record, this team rarely plays at noon.
Even if this is a rare situation, it should be addressed. Hearing it’s curtains for the Cowboys could actually be a positive for once.