Leave it to the Jets to be the biggest jerks in the room.
On Monday, Dallas Cowboys receiver Lucky Whitehead was falsely linked to a shoplifting case. Whitehead, who seems like a real handful off the field, denied he had anything to do with it, but within hours, Dallas released him. He was fired, even when cops later admitted they had made a mistake, that they were looking for someone else. Whitehead was innocent. And now unemployed.
Yet the Cowboys stood by their decision. On Tuesday, head coach Jason Garrett justified Whitehead’s release as being “in the best interest of the Dallas Cowboys. We’re standing by that decision. We’re going to move on.”
Over the course of his three minutes of availability, Garrett repeated some form of that canned statement 10 times like a pre-programmed jerk-bot. Jerry Jones was testy with the media, too, blasting reporters for killing him when he stands up for players and hitting him now, when he didn’t.
“If you all have done one thing in my time to criticize me, it is how I will back up a player to a fault,” Jones said. “You’ve done it. You’ve done it for years. I will back ’em up to a fault.”
Jones is right. He has been a huge jerk with this stuff forever. He was criticized when he vouched for Greg Hardy, called him a team leader, and minimized his crimes off the field. The Cowboys have stood by bad dudes for a long time, and Jones has typically protected his players, whether they were guilty, or not.
The Cowboys apparently thought Whitehead was such a jerk, they weren’t going to wait to see if he was actually innocent. They likely didn’t care, souring on him so much that he wasn’t afforded the same benefit of doubt the team extended Jourdan Lewis, who was not released after he was accused, and later found not guilty, of domestic violence. In the Cowboys’ universe, being accused of getting physical with a woman is more acceptable than being falsely accused of stealing stuff from Wawa.
The Cowboys have stood by Ezekiel Elliott, too. Let’s not forget Elliott has been under NFL investigation for a year after he was accused of beating a woman on multiple occasions. While the investigation remains open, Elliott also pulled a woman’s blouse up during a parade exposing her breast, and he was recently accused of punching someone in the face in a bar fight. Innocent until proven guilty, he still has a job.
Whitehead was apparently such a clown the last two years that he was not afforded the same sanctuary given to Leon Lett, who was suspended by the NFL in 1995, 1996 and 1997 for failing multiple drug tests. He was always welcome in Dallas.
Let’s not forget about Josh Brent. On Jan. 24, 2014, he was found guilty of intoxication manslaughter, responsible for the death of teammate Jerry Brown, and sentenced to 180 days in jail. He was activated by the Cowboys in November later that year, welcomed back with open arms.
Or what about Pacman Jones? The Cowboys traded for him while he was still serving a season-long suspension for off-field conduct. Before he was even reinstated by the league, just months after he was accused of punching a woman in the face, the Cowboys were ready to give Jones a job, too.
Finally, less than a year following an armed standoff with police, the Cowboys gave a job to Alonzo Spellman in 1999. Spellman had been out of football for a year, struggling with a bi-polar disorder that got him in several altercations with authorities through the years. Welcome to the Dallas Cowboys!
Jerry Jones and the Cowboys were OK with all of those guys, and many more including Nolan Carroll (DWI), Damien Wilson (aggravated assault with a deadly weapon), David Irving and Randy Gregory (drug suspensions), who are all members in good standing on this year’s team.
So, yes, the Cowboys sure came across like big jerks this week for looking like their priorities are way out of whack. They made it seem like a team that looks past everything from killing teammates to beating women was unable to look past being falsely accused of stealing snacks from a convenience store.
It doesn’t take a genius to realize that Whitehead was going to be asked to turn in his playbook anyway, if this week never happened. Between his lack of production and a series of behavior issues off the field, Whitehead’s days in Dallas were numbered. It didn’t matter if Whitehead wasn’t even in the same state as someone claiming to be him tried to steal $ 40 worth of food and drinks from a Wawa.
Whitehead had reportedly been quite a handful in Dallas. His off-field behavior wasn’t worth the nine catches over two years. Last week, he wrote on Instagram that his dog was stolen and held for ransom by a local rapper. The next day he posted the dog was home safe, and the whole bizarre ordeal was staged on social media. That, alone, doesn’t get you fired.
Last year, Whitehead was taken off the travel roster for a game against the Giants after missing a team meeting when he reportedly went AWOL. The team had no idea where he was and had to call the police to look for him. According to the NFL Network, tardiness was a “constant issue” for Whitehead.
Also last year, Whitehead was also involved in a car accident and reportedly never told the team. The Cowboys found out when it was on the news. This is not the behavior of a responsible NFL player or an employee of any company.
Whitehead sounds like a tremendous jerk, especially for a guy fighting for a roster spot. He was going to get the ax anyway, but that doesn’t excuse the Cowboys from cutting him when they did. It was bad optics.
But after all that, leave it to the Jets.
Remarkably, they were first in line to sign a fringe receiver with those documented off-field issues, and that’s just the stuff we know about. Garrett indicated the Cowboys know more about their players than the media does, so there may be more to Whitehead’s release. Yet, the Jets showed not even an inch of hesitation to sign a guy who was an immediate distraction. Nobody asked Whitehead “football” questions this week. The guy was the center of a national story. He’s been blasting the Cowboys for days. Yes, he was treated poorly by Dallas, hung out to dry, but let’s not make the guy out to the the face of player rights.
He handled his time in Dallas poorly. The Cowboys handled Whitehead’s release poorly. But now he’s the Jets’ problem.
One of the reasons Colin Kaepernick is believed to not have a job yet is because of the supposed distraction he would be for the team that signs him. Browns lineman Joe Thomas said earlier this year that winning teams avoid guys who are distractions, who don’t get those “football” questions from the media.
The Jets desperately needed a quarterback, and still do. Yet Kaepernick was never offered the same opportunity as Whitehead was this week. Kaepernick waged a silent protest for social change and wore an offensive pair of socks last summer, but he doesn’t have a job. Yet, jerks like the Jets can’t wait to go through someone else’s garbage and give guys like Whitehead an opportunity.
In a situation this week overflowing with jerks, the Jets managed to come out looking like the biggest ones yet again.
Finally, a fan at a Cleveland Indians game this week complained that some jerk seated in front of him was covered in Nazi tattoos. According to reports, the man and his son were moved to seats with less offensive sightlines. Ironically, Native-Americans have been complaining to the team about about offensive imagery for decades and they’re still waiting for a response.
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