With Mr. Hardy & Mr. Jones Leading The Way, Drama In Dallas Is Nothing Short Of A Disruptive Affair
So far this season, the Dallas Cowboys have mastered the art of the self-inflicted wound. With ease and painful regularity, they continue to find new and inventive ways to lose while Tony Romo is out of the lineup.
The defense. The quarterback. The special teams. They’ve all contributed to what is now a four-game losing streak that has the preseason favorites sitting at the bottom of an underwhelming NFC Eastern division.
But Jerry… Nothing is more loose, disjointed, or socially dangerous than his off-the-cuff chats with the media in the postgame dressing room. Even with 26 years of job experience to his credit, Jerry Jones unceasingly gives the impression that he is not cognizant of what he says. No doubt, Jerry would have been admitted to a football asylum many moons ago if not for the certified fact that he knows exactly what comes out of his mouth. He just doesn’t care enough to make sure it passes even the lowest of intelligence tests.
Jerry’s postgame visit with the media following his Cowboys’ 27-20 loss to the New York Giants provided additional concerns for a franchise already flirting with a lost season. Not only are the Cowboys leaking oil on the field, their owner is still suffering from a long-standing condition widely referred to as Foot-in-Mouth-Disease. This is not good, even if it is par for the course.
More than simply the predictable questions about another second-half meltdown from the Cowboys, the press, on this day, had a few questions of a different variety related to one of Jerry’s high-profile players. It seems that troubled defensive end Greg Hardy suffered a brief meltdown of his own while on the sideline in the fourth quarter. No, he didn’t exactly break the NFL’s code of conduct policy again, but he did try his best to break up a special teams huddle that was being led by Rich Bisaccia.
It was believed that he was simply trying to encourage his teammates after they had allowed former teammate Dwayne Harris to return a kickoff 100 yards for a touchdown. What remained murky was Hardy’s purpose in knocking a clipboard from Bisaccia’s hand while in midst of a coaching session.
Was this Hardy’s own way of being a good teammate, or was it an act of defiance toward the Dallas coaching staff?
The media aren’t always as ignorant as they lead us to think. When there’s a question that needs answering, they go right to the top, straight to Coach Jones himself.
Jerry, was Greg’s conduct out of line this time too? Will he get suspended?
Jerry could have stayed neutral on the subject and allowed it to be handled in a quiet manner internally. But it goes against Jerry’s nature to allow someone else to clean the jocks and socks. He must give his opinion, if only to remain relevant to the media contingent who faithfully follow him around every week like loyal dogs.
So rather than give head coach Jason Garrett a free hand to discipline Hardy in a manner that he and his staff deemed proper, Jones chose sides – and sided with the player. “He’s just getting guys ready to play, in my view,” Jones said of Hardy’s outburst. “I don’t have any issue with him being involved in motivating or pushing in any part of the football team, because he plays and walks the walk…I welcome that. I would encourage it.”
You see, rarely is there a time when Jones feels obligated to remain loyal to his head coach. Since Jimmy Johnson departed via divorce proceedings in March of 1994, this has been Jerry’s method of operation.
Maybe the saddest part of this whole scene was that Jones was actually trying to blow it off as something of no consequence even when he and every other player and coach in the locker room knew better than that. Hardy’s act was momentarily disruptive, at the very least. There were far better choices Hardy could have made than to interrupt a special teams huddle right before a kickoff-return. He also could have done better than to disrespect a coach in front of the entire bench area. That will not sit well with the head coach, nor should it.
The first part Garrett can put down to an individual’s passion for the game. But he cannot tolerate behavior from Hardy or any other player that undermines organizational structure and locker room unity. Though you wouldn’t always know it by their salary, the coaches are actually in a superior position to the players.
To be fair, Hardy’s not the first to have a bad moment on an NFL sideline. In the heat of the moment, proper judgment can elude even the best of players. It’s hard to maintain composure when your week’s work is blowing up before your very eyes on a Sunday afternoon. Troy Aikman, the ultimate professional and the unquestioned face of America’s Team, spent the middle part of the 1990’s turning his back on head coach Barry Switzer on the Dallas sideline.
But Hardy, last time I checked, doesn’t have as many mulligans left as Aikman did.
Anything Hardy does at this point, whether on or off the field, receives amplified attention. Though he has already served his suspension and taken a year-long verbal flogging from the public, Hardy’s role in a domestic violence incident from last year continues to follow him around wherever he goes. Hardy allegedly struck his girlfriend multiple times during an argument. Despite the fact that a jury never convicted him, a strong number of the socially concerned believe that Hardy indicted himself when he paid her off. That is a dangerous standard to hold someone to, even more so than many yokels on talk-radio would care to admit.
It’s best to be careful when proclaiming Hardy as guilty based upon a private settlement out of court. Especially when considering who is signing his checks. Let’s not forget that only last year Jerry himself was accused of misconduct of a far more serious nature with an exotic dancer at a nightclub. The charges were eventually dropped, but only upon the understanding that the two parties would settle out of court.
If Hardy shouldn’t be allowed to even step foot on an NFL playing field again, as millions of football fans insist, then what should that spell for a man in Jerry’s position within the NFL community?
The news came down on Monday afternoon that the team does not plan to suspend Hardy for his sideline run-in. After Jerry’s postgame comments, could Garrett be expected to do anything else? It would hardly be in the team’s best interest to ostracize Jerry by making an example out of Hardy. But Garrett did have another sit-down with his defensive end. Considering the fact that this is the third such meeting between head coach and player in the span of a few months, it’s highly likely that Garrett drew a line in the sand.
With a 2-4 record, the Cowboys could do with a lot less drama on the sideline. And, it goes without saying, that a significant reduction in commentary from Jerry’s corner of the universe wouldn’t hurt anyone either.