The Dallas Cowboys are still contemplating what to do with receiver Dez Bryant, who was arrested on domestic violence charges Monday. His case has since been sent to the District Attorney, but the team has yet to announce any sort of consequence for the rising star. On Thursday, Cowboys Hall of Fame quarterback Roger Staubach offered his take.
Staubach played for legendary head coach Tom Landry, who didn’t put up with off-field garbage from his players, referencing former Cowboys running back Duane Thomas. In fact, Landry had Thomas traded after his second season with the team due to the trouble he plagued on the team. That was the year after he led the NFL in rushing and helped Dallas win the franchise’s first Super Bowl.
Cowboys Hall of Fame defensive tackle Bob Lilly said Thomas was a phenomenal talent, but he couldn’t stay out of trouble (primarily on the field) and he simply didn’t know how to be a good teammate.
So, in short, Landry didn’t put up with player garbage, regardless of their on-field contribution. Bryant is a spectacular talent with worlds of potential, but his string of off-field incidents since being drafted in 2010 is ridiculous.
“You still want to help them, but you get to a point where, is it affecting the rest of the team?” Staubach said. “Once that happens, that’s when you’ve got to cut the cord. But you’ve still got to do what you can. Coach tried to work with players, but if it didn’t work out, you were gone.”
Yep, if the Cowboys traded the NFL’s leading rusher the year after winning the Super Bowl, Bryant would have been long gone by now under Landry. Of course, the team is a whole lot softer now since Jerry Jones bought the franchise in 1989 and ran another legendary coach – Jimmy Johnson – out of town after back-to-back Super Bowl titles in the early 1990s. That’s why guys like Terrell Owens, Pacman Jones, Tank Johnson and Bryant are allowed to remain on the team while constantly causing or getting into trouble.
Now, Staubach made the point Bryant isn’t that big of an issue until he starts affecting the team as a whole. That’s an interesting point because Bryant has already hurt the team on the field. The primary instance was the Cowboys’ Week 1 loss to the New York Jets last season in which Bryant remained on the field when he was injured and caused Tony Romo to throw an interception that wouldn’t have happened had Bryant continued on his route. However, he was unable to do so because he had a deep thigh bruise.
Ok, so that didn’t have to do with his legal troubles. The Cowboys are trying to groom a No. 3 receiver to take over for the departed Laurent Robinson and Bryant consistently getting into trouble with no consequences is a bad example. The next thing you know, another young receiver will be on his way to stardom on the field and then get in trouble perhaps with Bryant. It might not be a receiver; it could be any player.
“If it actually is factual that he’s had all these episodes, there is definitely a pattern of behavior that’s not good,” Staubach said. “It’s affecting him, then it affects your teammates and affects what you do on the field. So that’s not good. If you can’t repair that, it affects the rest of the team.”
Cowboys head coach Jason Garrett already has an issue of accountability, so allowing players to continuously get into trouble off the field is the last thing the Cowboys need.
In addition, Dallas is the farthest thing from mentally tough team, so any distraction whatsoever is maximized to the players on the team. As a player, Bryant needs to stay out of trouble to get better on the field. As a teammate, he needs to stay out of trouble to help his team be successful in all aspects of football.