Want a good recipe to cause Thanksgiving indigestion for NFL executives?
Take one "Ginormous HDTV" scoreboard hanging from the middle of Cowboys Stadium that's ridiculously easy to hit with a punt. Add Oakland Raider punter Shane Lechler's nuclear-powered All-Pro leg. Roast before a Thanksgiving Day national television audience of about 20 million viewers.
That's the scenario the NFL is faced with, now that the low-laying fruit of punting right into the Cowboys' high-definition video screen has been hilariously exposed. The New York Times estimates that the screen is only 90 feet above the field. Titans' punter A.J. Trapasso boinked that screen four times with his punts in both warm ups and during the game in Friday night's inaugural preseason game at Cowboys Stadium.
Fast forward to their cherished Thanksgiving Day home game, when the Dallas Cowboys have to host the Raiders and monster-punt specialist Shane Lechler. If backup punter A.J. Trapasso can hit that scoreboard, then how easy would it be for the Raiders' four-time Pro Bowler with the most powerful leg in the business?
This potentially embarrassing Thanksgiving circumstance is already causing headaches around the NFL, and it's not even Labor Day yet.
"Think of this possibility," Peter King writes this week in his Sports Illustrated "Monday Morning Quarterback" column."The Raiders and Cowboys meet on national TV on Thanksgiving. Oakland stalls in the first quarter at midfield, at the left hash mark, and Lechler is told to try to place the ball across the field, inside the 10-yard line."
"He could hit the video board once, twice, three times in a row," writes King. "It's not probable, of course. But it's certainly something the league has to think could happen."
Not only would this embarrass the Cowboys in their precious, overpriced new stadium -- a very noble goal in and of itself. Scoreboard-boinking with punts could be used in strategically in a live game situation.
It would not count as a penalty against the Raiders if Lechler hit the screen with his punt. There is no rule on the books prohibiting kickers from intentionally hitting a scoreboard. The play is simply played over, with the time not being replaced on the clock.
It's a great way to kill up to a minute, maybe more, of game clock time. Hmmmm, could that be useful for a team nursing a small lead in a clutch situation? Or needing to somehow generate additional time outs?
It's true that it would be very, very unlikely for a game outcome to be affected by such a wacky and unusual circumstance. But if you think Thanksgiving Day games against the Cowboys are never decided by wacky, unusual circumstances, then may I introduce you to Leon Lett?
Joe Kukura is a freelance writer who's hoping Shane Lechler will actually damage the Cowboys Stadium scoreboard with a punt.