The latest act of misconduct committed by a Cowboys player came late Tuesday night, this time by linebacker Damien Wilson. Allegedly, he backed his truck into a female tailgater at a 4th of July celebration in Frisco, TX and proceeded to brandish a weapon and induce fear into a separate bystander.
This transgression comes about a month after newcomer cornerback Nolan Carroll got arrested for DUI following his welcome party in downtown Dallas. Add these two recent cases to the domestic violence allegations currently surrounding running back Ezekiel Elliott and rookie cornerback Jourdan Lewis. Elliott is still awaiting a decision in his domestic violence case, while Lewis is due in court on the 24th of this month for his pending case.
For the past couple years, Greg Hardy dominated headlines after being signed by the Cowboys. Hardy, at one time, was found guilty of two counts of domestic violence only to have the case later dismissed. Hardy agreed to a one-year deal with the Cowboys in March of 2015, but in November of the same year, pictures surfaced of his beaten ex-girlfriend. The evidence weighed heavily against Hardy, but still no action was taken by Garrett and the Cowboys front office due in part to his athletic, on-the-field prowess shown with his former team, the Carolina Panthers. The Cowboys rightfully took plenty of flak for not properly disciplining Hardy. It was only until Hardy brought chemistry issues to the locker room and failed to maintain his dominance that the Cowboys decided to part ways with him.
In addition, the Cowboys defense in particular seems bent on breaking the league’s substance abuse policy the past three seasons: six different players on defense have faced 11 separate suspensions.
Now, the severity of a performance-enhancing drug (PED) infraction does not come even close to sheer inhumanity of domestic violence, but it is clear that Garrett has a disciplinary problem on his hands. Sure, Elliott and Lewis joined the Cowboys already having allegedly committed domestic violence, but what kind of message does this send to the locker room? Well, especially after the Hardy debacle, it sends a message of tolerance, if not acceptance.
That being said, Garrett has the capability to either immediately squash this idea of tolerance or perpetuate this dangerous message inside the locker room. He holds plenty of power, and, he needs to send a resounding message. Players both in the past and currently get off way too easily for off-the-field misconduct. Players can possess a superiority complex where, in their mind, talent and production outweigh their off-the-field issues. This is not the atmosphere coaches across the league should be promoting.
Garrett, in conjunction with the front office, needs to handle these cases accordingly and not be afraid of dishing out a lengthy suspension or, if the situation calls for it, removal from the team. It only takes one resounding punishment for the team to finally get their act and discipline together.
Photo: RJ Ochoa (Inside the Star)