If the Houston Astrodome was the eighth wonder of the world in its day, then the new Cowboys’ Stadium has to be the marvel of the modern era. Having toured the stadium twice in the past month, I am impressed more than ever with Jerry Jones as a visionary and marketing genius. It is hard not to be overwhelmed by the sheer magnitude, architectural ingenuity, and pure elegance of the place.
Cowboys stadium is the Crystal Cathedral of football venues.
There is, however, a couple of troubling, nagging questions gnawing at the back of my brain.
First, does Jerry Jones see his new stadium as the crowning achievement of his NFL career?
I mean, he already has his Super Bowl trophies. He bought himself enough good will in the early 90s to see him through the late 90s and early 2000s. Sure, he wants more. Of course, he would like to hoist another trophy or three. But maybe, just maybe, he realizes that in the grand scheme of things, in the world beyond the NFL, that building is the one achievement likely to make him an international darling.
Second, does he spend more time, energy and personal resources on ensuring that the biggest in outlay of cash he will ever make pays off?
The stadium tour guide makes sure you know that the place cost 1.4 billion to build. He also makes sure you know that the city of Arlington had a hard cap of 325 million that it was willing to contribute. The rest came straight out of Jerry’s coffers.
In a global economy that smells like the soured milk I dumped down the sink the other day, that is a ton of cash. Heck, in a robust economy with no money worries anywhere, that is still a handsome sum.One cannot help but wonder how much of Jerry’s mind is occupied with hosting thrilling boxing matches, a BCS game, a U2 concert, an NCAA basketball final, a Republican National Convention, a World Cup, and so on.
Now, you, as a Cowboys’ fan, may say, “Yeah. So?”
So, I will tell you my concern. Maybe Jerry is going cheap this off-season because he has looked at his bank account and said, “Whoa!”
Exhibit A: O.J. Atogwe. Here is a proven safety, as good a center fielder as there is in football, a ball-hawking, play-maker at the position that happens to be your team’s last line of defense before the opponent hangs six on you, and Jerry says, “Meh.”
Is that not a little weird to you? Do you really believe that Jerry is that confident in the undersized Alan Ball and the unproven Michael Hamlin?
In the past, if you gave Jerry an opportunity to upgrade a position like that and all it would cost was money, he would pull that trigger every time. Every single time. And now here he sits in an uncapped year, with the biggest question mark on his entire team being at the safety position, and a plum like Otogwe falls on his plate, and he pushes it aside.
“No thanks. I’m full. We’re good where we are.”
That kind of anti-Jones behavior is enough to raise a red flag. Is Jerry hurting for money? Is he pinching pennies? If so, how much will the on-field product suffer while he waits for his glorious new stadium to pay for itself?
This is just conjecture, of course. Maybe this is nothing. Maybe Jones and Coach Wade Phillips have seen enough of the kids to really believe they will be as good as or better than Atogwe. Maybe.
But, maybe not.