They sent a message, all right. It just wasn’t the one they wanted.
Among all the players on the Cowboys roster dealing with suspensions and off-field issues, the team ended up cutting the guy who was innocent. The Prince William County (Va.) Police Department rescinded a warrant for Whitehead’s arrest on Tuesday. The Cowboys cut Whitehead on Monday after a shoplifting charge, then the police said Tuesday it was a case of mistaken identity. Classic mixup.
The Cowboys have shown unrelenting patience for so many other players, and could have kept Whitehead with just a little bit of patience in his case. Dumping Whitehead is not going to hurt the Cowboys’ Super Bowl chances, but it is funny.
And to double down on the humor, coach Jason Garrett – you may remember him from Monday’s press conference where he laughably said, “We have built this team with great character guys” – could only manage to repeat the same vanilla phrase when asked about the Whitehead fiasco.
“Yesterday we made a decision we deemed to be in the best interest of the Dallas Cowboys,” Garrett said. “We’re standing by that decision and we’re going to move on.”
But wasn’t that decision based on false information?
“Yesterday we made a decision we thought was in the best interest of the Dallas Cowboys,” Garrett said. “We’re going to stand by that decision and we’re going to move on.”
Give the media that covers the Cowboys credit: They wouldn’t let up. Garrett was asked if it was fair to Whitehead to just say the same thing over and over.
“It’s the truth,” Garrett said. “We made a decision we thought was in the best interest of the Dallas Cowboys.”
Then, in classic Texas fashion, someone asked, “Do you have some people working for the Dallas Cowboys that are just too stupid to work for this team?” Garrett wasn’t fazed, sticking with the Bill Belichick “We’re on to Cincinnati”/Marshawn Lynch “I’m just here so I won’t get fined” repetitive script.
“I’ll stand by the statement I made,” Garrett said. “We made a decision yesterday that we thought was in the best interest of the Dallas Cowboys. We’re going to stand by … ”
Ah, you know how it ends. It went on like that for a while. Reporters would pull the string on Garrett, and he’d repeat the same phrase. About the only time Garrett went off script was when he said, “We know a lot of things about our players that you guys don’t know.” He also said it was in Whitehead’s best interest to have a clean slate.
In fairness, it wasn’t just one incident that led to Whitehead’s release, as Yahoo Sports’ Charles Robinson reported.
#Cowboys Lucky Whitehead release was cumulative, I'm told. Just the totality of dumb stuff this offseason. Far too high maintenance.
— Charles Robinson (@CharlesRobinson) July 24, 2017
But the final straw for Whitehead turned out to be something he didn’t even do. Even for the Cowboys, that’s amazing.
Everything is magnified around the Cowboys. The market can’t get enough Cowboys news, and owner Jerry Jones loves the attention. Small stories on other teams become headlines in Dallas. But the Cowboys don’t help themselves at times, drafting and signing players who have significant red flags and predictably keep getting in trouble.
And when the Cowboys finally decided to get tough and do something about a player who got in trouble, they ended up in an absurd situation in which they cut a player who was a victim of mistaken identity. Now the NFL gets to point and laugh for a while. After some of that, Coach Garrett, then we can move on.
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