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Monday, June 11, 2012
Are the Cowboys practicing too hard?

By Dan Graziano

Last week, for a few brief moments, NFC West blogger Mike Sando was our guest in the comments section here at the NFC East blog. This week, Mike has a post that touches on one of our teams -- specifically the Dallas Cowboys. In the wake of the NFL's punishing the Seahawks for violating the non-contact rules of offseason practices, Sando and one of his Twitter followers went on an investigative reporting mission to examine video clips from each team's web site. They found some contact during Cowboys OTAs, as Mike outlines here.

Here's the thing on the non-contact rules: They're not new, and the Seahawks aren't the first team to get busted for breaking them. If my memory serves me correctly, the Jets and Lions each lost OTAs for such violations in 2010, and I don't think they were the first ones either. And regardless of what Pete Carroll thinks, a team's only going to get punished for these violations if one or more of its players reports the violation. The NFLPA has encouraged its players to do so, since they do have rights and should feel empowered to defend them, but obviously it's impossible to imagine that most players wouldn't fear repercussions and ridiculous to think that the unreported violations far outnumber the reported ones.

I looked at the video, and there's obviously contact going on in that Cowboys practice. More than is permitted under league rules? No idea. I imagine that's for the league to decide. But in order for it to be brought to the league's attention, someone on the Cowboys would have to decide to report it. That's the way these things work. And in the case of the Seahawks, if the contact was more than what's permissible at this time of year according to the CBA, I applaud the player or players who brought it to the attention of the right people.

Don't give me the "everybody does it" or "it's been going on for years" garbage. Those are weak, simpleminded excuses. Right is right, wrong is wrong and society evolves. If the players have negotiated the right not to have to get hit by other players in May and June, they should be standing up to make sure that right is protected. And if what's going on in that Cowboys video rises to the level of an offseason rules violation, then I hope someone on the Cowboys would have said something about it already. The game is dangerous enough from September through January. There's nothing wrong with trying to keep it extra-safe in June.