It was a quick video blip during the NFL Network's Thursday afternoon pregame coverage — a shot from Dallas station KDFW of Dallas Cowboys defensive tackle Jay Ratliff being restrained by two of Ratliff's teammates in the team's locker room during media access time. The target of Ratliff's ire was ESPN Dallas reporter Calvin Watkins, and though the subject of Ratliff's annoyance was unknown at the time, the sheer number of bleeps in the quick feed pretty much told the story.
Mac Engel of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram was on the scene, and had this to report.
What happened in the Cowboys' locker room between nose tackle Jay Ratliff and a veteran Cowboys beat reporter on Thursday should not come as a giant surprise. I was there to witness the "fun", which was a tad uncomfortable, and totally predictable.
On Thursday, Watkins was asking Ratliff about the news regarding former Cowboys receiver Sam Hurd's arrest for drug trafficking. The chat went south quickly; suddenly I see Marcus Spears and Martellus Bennett pushing both Ratliff and Watkins in opposite directions. Some rather unfriendly, and unprintable, words were exchanged. Something like, "You stink." "No, you stink" ... only with saltier language, at a much higher volume.
Per some information from some more people who were there, apparently Calvin was really pushing on this one when Jay told him to "walk away." Calvin did not, and that's when the fun started.
Watkins didn't have much to say about it outside of what he posted on his Twitter account.
The tiff interrupted a presser with Cowboys defensive coordinator Rob Ryan, who was trying to explain why his defense had given up three different second-half leads in less than a full season. So maybe Ryan was happy about the distraction — after things settled down, Ryan said, "My money's on Ratliff."
Engel went on to explain that Ratliff has always had a difficult relationship with the media.
It was DeMarcus Ware who said of Ratliff: "They are two different guys. One is a jokester, and Jay wants to grab and choke you.... You don't know what to expect from Jay. One day Jay will come in happy and the next day he'll roll his eyes. And I'm like, 'We're going to have a long day.'"
When he is in the right mood, Jay can be charming, funny, bright and very well-spoken. When he's not in the right mood, forget it. There can be level of aggression that this guy projects that is exceptionally uncomfortable for just about any environment other than a football field.
Jay's relationship with the media has always been testy. Something happened with a reporter when he was a teenager and he never really got over it, or at the very least he's leery of us as a whole.
One thing we know for sure: If DeMarcus Ware isn't Dallas' best defensive player, Ratliff surely is. And with the Cowboys facing a must-win game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers Saturday night, maybe it's best that Ratliff heads into the last part of the regular season with a chip on his shoulder.
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