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Cowboys screen play

If ever there was a monument to Texas' clichéd fondness for BIG, it's that planet-sized videoboard hovering 90 feet above the field in the Dallas Cowboys' $1.15 billion new digs. At 60 yards long and 72 feet high, the big ol' box has become an instant attraction for patrons' peepers as well as punters who've discovered they can hit it, thus enshrining the gaudy contraption in the pantheon of such play-disrupting fixtures as the speakers on the ceilings of the Minneapolis Metrodome and Houston Astrodome.

The NFL has promptly removed any tactical advantage in deliberately nailing the board, enacting the rule that play will be blown dead and the clock reset should the ball strike that heavenly object, although much time will be shaved off your lifespan as coaches challenge such rulings. Also scary is the realization that this behemoth weighs in the neighborhood of a million pounds suspended by a steel structure, two pairs of three-inch-thick cables on each end, and tethers to humongous box trusses that span the field.

Nevertheless, one can't help entertaining the dreadful notion (unless one gets one's jollies from such things) of the whole shooting match suddenly coming down and squashing the players like ants. That lovely little sky-is-falling scenario was once invoked by former New York Islanders owner Howard Milstein, who was merely talking about a 22,000-pounder when he made his specious bid to wriggle out of a lousy lease at the crumbling Nassau Coliseum in 1998.

Besides looming as a spiffy conversation piece -- reader Spence Kendrick of Dallas reports that local sportsradio outlet KTCK "The Ticket" has referred to the big board as The Screen Monster -- is a living, blinking (30 million bulbs worth) testament to an age when fans are encouraged to watch everything but the action on the field. Any modern stadium worth its wine bar includes an array of arcades, attractions, eateries and watering holes that make the game an afterthought. This Texas titan in all its eye-popping glory begs the $1.15 billion question: why pay $150 for an upper deck ticket when you can stay home and watch on a big screen in your rumpus room? After all, how many times have you gone to a game or concert and watched almost the entire thing on the video screens? It's almost impossible not to, especially if you're seated a fair distance from the proceedings. If you insist on the authentic in-stadium experience of profane drunks fighting and screaming as they pour beer down your back, surely your spouse can provide that service free.

We sure live in a revealing age. As ESPN tightens trousers across the land with the news of its forthcoming Body Issue -- possibly seeingDanica Patrick in it au natural has surely started the motors of auto racing buffs -- the good ol' New York Post has been running wild with cleverly-titled stories such as 'Striphanger" about folks taking it all off on the subway and in the streets of Manhattan, and "Eyeful Tower" about the High Line Standard Hotel in New York City that encourages guest to cavort in the raw and engage in unseemly acts in full view of the citizens in the streets below. That last deal is in the grand tradition of the notorious hotel at the Rogers Centre in Toronto where randy couples have provided in-game adult entertainment. Yet another example of how going to games these days means anything but actually watching the games.

With Michael Vick barking signals for the Eagles on Thursday night, this space was surprised by the relatively light yapping from protestors in Philadelphia, alhtough this bloke has an offbeat take on the subject. Then again, a certain burnout inevitably sets in with drawn-out sagas such as Vick's. That's good for athletes looking to live down crimes, misdemeanors and indiscretions. Vick can thank his lucky stars that the Eagles don't have to playin Cleveland's notorious Dog Pound this season although people will surely be reminded of his unsavory past any time a broadcaster states Vick is being kept on a short leash by coach Andy Reid, hounded by a defense, dogged by doubt, bitten by bad luck...

This space has taken heat from Islanders partisans for lamenting the shabby circus the once-proud NHL Dynasty became during the past 15 years or so under reigns of error orchestrated by Mad Mike Milbury and a succession of wacky if not rascally owners. So this is a proud day indeed as Getting Loose can finally say the Isles are no longer the laughingstock of the NHL. Not even close.

The bizarre bungling market is now a crowded place. Tampa Bay Lightning owners Oren Koules and Len Barrieconducted the embarrassingly aborted Barry Melrose coaching experiment last year, loaded their lousy team with every ill-fitting free agent they could sniff out, then seized each other's throats, forcing the NHL to step in. The Blackhawks gave bum-shouldered Marian Hossa an Alexei Yashin-esque 12-year, $62.8 million deal that put the visegrips on their salary cap and inspired an investigation by the NHL. They also failed to mail qualifying offers to free agents on time, an inaction that forced them to pay through the beak to keep Kris Versteeg and Cam Barker, and cost GM Dale Tallon his gig. Then we have the NHL itself reduced to psychedelic pandemonium as it tries to keep Jim Balsillie -- once welcomed as potential owner of the Pittsburgh Penguins -- from buying and moving the bankrupt Phoenix Coyotes into the backyard of hockey's answer to the Chicago Cubs: the Toronto Maple Leafs.

SI.com's Jim Kelleyhas the gory details, but the NHL is bidding to buy the Yotes, even if it means booting icon Wayne Gretzky and moving them -- something the league insisted it won't do out of loyalty to the good burghers of Phoenix/Glendale. All this to beat back boogeyman Balsillie, who has been deemed lacking in the moral fiber ordinarily found in the rogues gallery of owners who have had passing acquaintances with federal investigators and even jailhouse decor. You can't make this stuff up, and it all makes current Isles owner Charles Wang look like a paragon of prudence. And unlike in Phoenix, there's hope on the Island now that John Tavares is in the fold.

From Cash4Gold, the good people who would love to melt down the Stanley Cup, the PGA Championship's Wanamaker Trophy, and any other precious metals they can get their twitching fingers on, comes this incredible offer: The company is also sponsoring a promotion offering an opportunity for one lucky MMA fan to attend the Xtreme Couture MMA Training Camp in Las Vegas. Complete details are included in the press release below.

We'll save you time and eyeleather by assuming this fortunate fan will get the lowdown on designing cutting-edge MMA handbags, tops and dresses with the latest blood-resistant wash-and-wear fabrics. Famous designers will surely be on hand for bare-knuckled runway bouts at the conclusion, with our lucky camper moving on to a winner-take-all ruffled cardigan/zip twill leggings match with Brock Lesnar.

The space has been keeping its bloodshot eyes on the contentious healthcare reform debate, but must admit it's a tad difficult to discern the truth in all the shouting. One presumably reliable source -- a local horse doctor with intimate knowledge of billing procedures -- insists you need look no further than the Flushing, NY for insidious evidence of what will happen to us all should ObamaCare pass. "ACORN death squads are already unplugging the Mets," claims our wild-eyed source. "Just this week they unplugged Johan Santana and Oliver Perez."

When this space expressed doubt that such a hideous fate could befall two wealthy individuals such as Senors Santana and Perez, our source shrieked, "When was the last time you saw Carlos Beltran and Carlos Delgado?"

And so we have once again arrived at the Gates of Opprobrium, where you get your chance to unload your crates of vitriol, carts of criticism, boxes of bons mots, and special offers of orchard-fresh peaches and exotic nectarines. We here at Getting Loose welcome them all and you can get in on the fun by depositing your nosegays in the handy box on your right (our left) and clicking SEND. (Soliloquys and stemwinders are fine, too. A mix is healthy, as too much of anything isn't good unless you're the Cowboys, right?)

Our factory-trained technician reads everything that comes in, sprinkles them with holy water and makes every effort to reply without malice aforethought. So in the paraphrased words of Pat Benatar, hit us with your best shot. Fire away.

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