As bad as the Super Bowl ticket fiasco ended up being for the NFL, it could have been much, much worse. Documents released by the City of Arlington on Friday indicate a concern by at least one Arlington official that the Cowboys were willing to roll the dice and take their chances that seats not cleared by the local officials wouldn’t, you know, collapse.
According to a thorough chronicle of the events created by the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, Arlington building official Ed Dryden wrote in an e-mail to his boss, Jim Parajon, “I think that the Cowboys are not going to correct certain items and assume the risk. This is not a good situation!”
Parajon told Dryden not to budge. “Bottom line is if it is not right, don’t approve it,” Parajon wrote in response.
It took a certain amount of courage for local officials to stand up to the most significant and powerful local business entity on the biggest day in the young life of the biggest stadium in the country. If the seats that were still being slapped together hours before the game had been used and had failed, we’d now be trying to sift through the mess and allocate blame.
Based on Dryden’s e-mail, much of the blame would have gone to the Cowboys. If Dryden’s perception is accurate, Jerry Jones’ employees were willing to risk the safety of Super Bowl attendees, all in the name of breaking the single-game attendance record.
Let’s reflect on that for a second. Dryden’s conclusion that the Cowboys were “not going to correct certain items and assume the risk” borders on the chilling, especially since we’ve seen so many man-made incidents in the past that could have been prevented. So while Drydan and Parajon deserve credit for saying “no” to an organization whose owner is very used to hearing “yes,” our collective view of the Cowboys organization should be a bit dimmer tonight.
In their zeal to set the NFL single-game attendance record, the Cowboys were willing to “assume the risk” that, after some of the record-setting fans reached their assigned seats, their assigned seats could collapse.
(But, hey, if that had happened the league could have stepped in and offered a triple refund and a ticket to next year’s Super Bowl.)
Meanwhile, the Cowboys continue to say nothing about the situation. And there’s nothing they can say to change the perception that, if the Cowboys had their way, safety would have taken a back seat to the pursuit of a meaningless high-water mark.