Cowboys 1st & 10: The Problem With Fans & Cutdown Notes
Dallas Cowboys boss Jerry Jones wants fans at his home games this year, as many as 50,000 of them. Before we dive into why I think that’s a bad idea, let’s understand what the rest of the NFL is doing.
1) Fan Problem
According to The Sporting News, which is tracking each of the league’s 32 teams and their plans for the season, 26 of the 32 NFL teams have announced that they won’t be having fans for games, in most cases announcing their plans for just the first two home games. The Cleveland Browns, because they’re, you know, the Browns, are undecided.
The NFL teams that are pushing for fans? The Colts, the Chiefs, the Jaguars, the Dolphins and the Cowboys.
While the other four teams are committed to having only 20 to 25 percent of their seats filled, the Cowboys haven’t committed to a number of fans in the stands. But on Thursday the Cowboys did try to sell tickets to the home opener against the Atlanta Falcons. And … it … did … not … go … well.
Turns out Cowboys ticket partner SeatGeek was apparently overwhelmed with the demand and had technical issues. Our Mike Fisher has more.
The Cowboys have two weeks before their home opener on Sept. 20. That’s two weeks to collect more data and see how other NFL teams that are allowing fans fare in terms of COVID-19 spread. Most specifically, the Chiefs are at home for the season’s first game on Thursday. The Jaguars are the only other team on the list at home on opening weekend, and oddly they host the Colts.
The rest of the NFL is taking a cautious approach, and that’s wise. I hope the Cowboys realize that and pull back on having fans at the opener, and perhaps the season’s second home game, by Sept. 20.
This entire spring and summer infectious disease experts and medical doctors have warned against what they call “super-spreader” events when it comes to COVID-19 spread. Basically, they’re talking about large events with people in close proximity for sustained periods of time. For a good portion of the spring and summer, the country has largely tried to avoid those sorts of events. Heck, both national political conventions were either virtual or held with small numbers of people.
Now we’re coming to the point where these type of events are harder and harder to avoid. Colleges started their fall semester in August and some of the testing numbers are troubling. Forbes has kept a running tally of positive COVID-19 cases at universities and schools like the University of Kentucky (760 students), Arizona State University (803 among students and staff), the University of Iowa (922 students) and the University of Alabama (1,368 among students, faculty and staff). While it’s good that campuses are testing and isolating positive students, it’s foreshadowing, frankly, for football season.
On Sept. 3, the New York Times reported that its survey of more than 1,500 American colleges and universities (including every four-year public institution and every private college that competes in NCAA sports) had a combined 51,000 cases and, fortunately, only 60 deaths. Among the more significant numbers was the 852 cases at Iowa State, which earlier this week did an about face on having fans at its home opener. TCU has 883 cases and just postponed its annual ‘Iron Skillet’ game with SMU.
And college football season has barely started. The University of Central Arkansas football team has provided a template, sort of, in terms of managing with COVID-19. The Bears have played two games so far, and in fact are the only team in Division I to play two games to this point. The Bears have managed to avoid a COVID-19 case between their first game and their second game. It’s probably not a coincidence that UCA has only 23 positive COVID-19 cases on campus and that the other school in Conway, Arkansas, Hendrix, only has one.
But the Bears just played a game at UAB, in Birmingham, Alabama, where the UAB campus has more than 1,000 cases. So, it will be interested to see how things develop there at UCA, where the Bears don’t play again until Sept. 19 against Arkansas State.
Then, there’s Sturgis.
The Sturgis, Motorcycle Rally in Sturgis, South Dakota, is one of the largest rallies of its kind in the country. The rally, which takes place over a number of weeks, brings hundreds of thousands of people and a wealth of cash to the Sturgis and South Dakota economy. It’s the definitely of a ‘super-spreader’ event health experts are wary of.
Now, according to an ABC News story, as of Sept. 4 only 290 people who went to Sturgis have tested positive. Given that hundreds of thousands people attended, that’s a good thing.
But here’s the troubling part, or parts. Those 290 cases have popped up in 12 different states. Health officials are still doing contact tracing, so there could be more. And the South Dakota State Fair starts this weekend. About 200,000 attended the fair last year.
That all adds up to the recipe that health experts have been warning us about. Most of the NFL’s teams are being cautious and, at least for the first couple of home games, keeping fans out. Franchises can police their own players — and the Cowboys have done a great job of that to this point — but they can’t police even a quarter of their fans in the stands.
It’s a risk for these five teams to have fans in the stands at this point, and as usual, Jones is hoping to push the envelope. Usually, that’s a good thing for Cowboys fans.
But, this time? This time, Jones needs to put the envelope back in the drawer. At least for now. Play the home opener without fans, Jerry. You’ll hate it, but it’ll be worth it.
2) 'It’s Go Time!’ NFL Reinstates Dallas Cowboys DE Randy Gregory
On Friday morning, Dallas Cowboys owner said news on the possible reinstatement from NFL suspension of defensive end Randy Gregory was “evolving and positive.”
On Friday evening, it evolved. And it’s positive.
“Today is a day of celebration and thanks,” Gregory wrote on social media.
The Cowboys have been waiting on some clarity when it comes to Gregory and his availability for some time, and our Mike Fisher got the news and broke down what Gregory has to do in order to get back on the field AND how his return can impact a position group that is starting to look like a true strength for this Cowboys team in 2020.
Oh, and speaking of the D-line: Trysten Hill is a starter?
3) The Top 60 All-Time Dallas Cowboys Countdown
We’re in the midst of presenting our Top 60 Dallas Cowboys of all-time, as part of celebrating the Cowboys’ 60 seasons in Dallas. Leading up to the season opener on Sept. 13, we’ll present the Top 60 in groups of five. We hope you enjoy the series and if you have opinion, take them to our Cowboy Maven community or hit me up on Twitter at @PostinsPostcard.
If you missed any of the stories in our Top 60 so far, just click on them below.
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5) The Cowboys make their final cuts
"Final'' is never really "final.'' But here's our constantly-updated tracker where the latest moves find Dallas turning in its official cuts to get to 53.
6) This Week In Training Camp
We start with the Dallas Cowboys ‘cheating the NFL’ with their practice jerseys during their Blue and White Scrimmage last Sunday. But was it ‘illegal?’ Mike Fisher broke it down.
Some great video emerged from the scrimmage, including Dak Prescott’s best pass of the evening. (Dak, by the way, surely considers the Deshaun Watson news in Houston to be good news!)
Then, shortly after, we profiled our ‘catch of the week.’
Then, some Amari Cooper talk. Early in the week Cooper missed some live-action team drills, and some started to wonder if Cooper had some injury issues. Fish tried to get to the bottom of it here.
There were injuries we know about, and Fish had the update on the injury to safety Xavier Woods (sounds like he’s going to be OK).
As the cuts started to come down in mid-week, the release of Clayton Thorsen reinforced a theory that our Mike Fisher advanced as early as May — that the Cowboys have some serious love for seventh-round pick Ben DiNucci.
On Thursday our Bri Amaranthus profiled five injury issues the Cowboys are dealing with on both sides of the football. None of them sounded serious, but they’re worth tracking.
And indeed, now we've got a La'el Collins problem; it appears he'll start the year on a short-term IR, as will Sean Lee.
Also, running back Ezekiel Elliott called this Cowboys roster ‘the most talented’ he’s been a part of since he arrived in Dallas. But does that mean the Cowboys are on their way to a legendary season?
7) Ha Ha To Carr?
The Cowboys cut safety Ha-Ha Clinton-Dix, a surprising move considering the investment the Cowboys made him this past March. Our Mike Fisher explored the move, including what it COULD mean when it comes to a certain free-agent safety. ...
8) Cowboys Blitzcast: Two Surprises Jumping Out Of The Star
Who within the Dallas Cowboys organization wants Earl Thomas? And who on this Cowboys roster is about to surprise?
Welcome to the ‘The Blitzcast’ – A Dallas Cowboys Podcast by The Drunk Sports Podcast and DSP Media, in partnership with CowboysSI.com. “BigRed” Lance Dorsett, Timm “IndyCarTim” Hamm, Colby “Whiskey” Sapp, and board-op Chris “The Bus” Bussell are your hosts as we discuss all things Dallas Cowboys and all things NFL. Special thanks to sponsors, CowboysSI.com and The Highlands Performance Golf Center in Carrollton, TX (HighlandsPGC.com)!
Who doesn’t want Earl? Who’s will wins out? And why are the Cowboys having issues at the safety position a week and a half before the season starts?
Meanwhile, what Cowboys player suddenly seems like he can play?
The hosts are joined by Alabama and Cowboys great George Teague and University of Texans and NFL great Jonathan Scott to discuss Thomas, as well as the workout Dez Bryant had with the Ravens last week. Is Dez done?
9) Are Cowboys Getting Ready To Take A Knee?
From our Mike Fisher:
The Dallas Cowboys, from Jerry Jones' owner's box down to the players' locker room, have yet to make specifically clear their intentions as it regards a protest of social injustice during the NFL pregame-playing of the national anthem. But an assortment of team leaders have indicated they feel some level of freedom to do as they wish.
10) Tweet Of The Week