Jerry, Cowboys Display Mind-Boggling Dysfunction With Release Of Whitehead.
Somewhere in Oklahoma right now, Barry Switzer is grinning from ear to ear. There’s also a good chance you’ll find him munching on a hot dog. And with good reason. Not even he, the beleaguered sideline captain for the crash-and-burn Cowboys of the 1990s, could have bungled a job as badly as what ol’ buddy Jerry Jones did yesterday.
Nearly twenty years after fans in Dallas deemed it a stroke of good luck when Barry chose to leave town on his own, a bizarre turn of events has opened a golden door of opportunity for the Switzer name to come back and stay awhile. Yes, even after all these years, Jerry’s still apparently looking out for the Switzers.
There was never any serious doubt when Lucky was still around anyway, but now it’s a cinch: barring catastrophe, Barry’s unofficial cousin, Ryan, will be a Dallas Cowboy in 2017. With his stiffest competition, the aforementioned Lucky Whitehead, now walking the streets of unemployment, Ryan Switzer is free to claim the club’s punt return duties as his own moving forward.
If you were looking for a silver-lining to the top story of training camp, I’m afraid that’s all you’ll find. And hey, it’s not such a bad bit of news at that either. Remember, the Cowboys haven’t hoisted a Lombardi trophy since the first Switzer drove back across the Red River.
Ever since then it’s been all Jerry all the time. Which, come to think of it, is what yesterday’s PR disaster in Oxnard smacked of.
I realize that Jason Garrett was the public face who addressed the decision in front of the media, but we both understand the impact of the far-reaching tentacles of Captain Jerry. Jerry’s been a problem. He is a problem. And soon, he’ll qualify as a Hall of Fame-caliber problem.
His organization is in shambles, a horrific caricature of what it once was. Super Bowls are nothing more than a talking point, deep playoff runs a fading fantasy. As if America needed more evidence to support this can’t-miss truth, there was yesterday’s smoke screen to swim through.
You would think that the Cowboys would have learned by now to keep a sharp lookout on the daily police blotters across the nation, so as to avoid being caught unawares by any unsavory news bulletins. You would also tend to think that, after this particular off-season which the Cowboys just endured, the big suits in the front office would have memorized the necessary preliminary steps for an in-house investigation.
But this version of America’s Team obviously isn’t obsessed with minor details like that. Not like Tom Landry was. Or Jimmy Johnson. Shoot, Barry had more marbles than to cut a player before first doing his homework.
Yet, that’s what Jerry and the Cowboys accomplished with their first afternoon of training camp in sunny California on Monday, showing Lucky Whitehead the exit door with all the respect of a rotten tomato. Mr. Whitehead, you deserved better than this. Far better.
As for you, Jerry…
It has been observed by more than one national penhead that the Cowboys were backed into a corner with yesterday’s breaking news, which claimed that Whitehead had not only been arrested in June for petty theft at a Virginia shopping center, but then failed to appear for his arraignment hearing, prompting authorities to issue a warrant for his arrest.
After an off-season filled with a barrage of failed drug tests, suspensions, questionable conduct, and irreverent tardiness, the time had come for management to flex some muscle and drop the hammer. Jerry was in need of a sacrificial lamb. Thank you very much, Mr. Whitehead.
And so, by making a public spectacle of Whitehead, management was supposed to have impressed upon the remaining players in camp that sideways behavior would no longer be tolerated. The big wigs were now carrying the big sticks.
Before this message even had a chance to stick on the wall, the dawning of a new day arrived, and with it a fresh batch of news. Hot off the press in Virginia, the police in Prince William County issued a statement on Tuesday that said the man they had arrested for shoplifting was, in fact, not Lucky Whitehead. Apparently, this other man, who had no identification on his body, verbally provided the name, date of birth, and Social Security number of the Cowboys’ third-year wide receiver to officers, leading to a very costly mix-up.
Whitehead was understandably miffed about the entire situation, especially his final meeting with Cowboy executives when his vehement denials of any involvement in the robbery fell on deaf ears. Whitehead even offered to supply proof he wasn’t there, but Jerry & Crew didn’t want to hear it.
“No one had my back… I didn’t even get to clear my name… I was pretty much being called a liar,” Whitehead told Jon Machota of the Dallas Morning News.
Had someone in the Cowboys office dared to phone Whitehead’s agent, David Rich, they would have discovered support for Whitehead’s claim. As Rich later told ESPN, Whitehead had flight tickets and other records which showed that he was not in Virginia at the time of the robbery. Whitehead could have been cleared and allowed to return to practice. Instead, Jerry chose to clear his name from the roster.
There was a day – long, long ago – when the moral of rash business decisions in Cowboy country was easy to understand from near and afar. Duane Thomas? Well, he couldn’t talk straight. Curvin Richards? Well, he couldn’t hold the ball straight. Mike Vanderjagt? He couldn’t kick straight.
And what crooked act did Lucky Whitehead commit? That is the question ringing foremost in the heads of countless football philosophers who are trying desperately to figure out what the Cowboys accomplished through it all.
The Cowboys parted ways with a player for all the wrong reasons, a player who – from the vantage point of probably everyone in the locker room – had done no wrong, and then dared to stick their noses in the wind for a response. That’s the way of life when a $4.2 billion empire is caught flat-footed, an organization with too much cents for their own pockets and not enough brains to fill a gumball machine.