Dallas Cowboys: Jerry Brown

What to do with Cowboys' roster spot?

July, 16, 2014
Jul 16
IRVING, Texas -- The Dallas Cowboys' decision to part ways with backup quarterback Kyle Orton has opened up a spot on the 90-man roster for training camp.

Josh Brent's name has come up as a possible fill-in, but sources say there is nothing new on that front. Brent remains at a treatment facility after he was released from county jail for his involvement in a 2012 car accident that killed his friend and teammate Jerry Brown.

The Cowboys have not ruled out the possibility of re-signing Brent if he wants to re-start his NFL career, but they have more pressing needs to fill with training camp starting next week.

At this point in the summer, finding players is difficult. With teams carrying 90 players, there are only so many available. The pool is not filled with stars. It’s filled mostly with guys you hope can get you through a few days of practice, limit the amount of snaps you give your regulars and perhaps develop into contributors.

Tight end remains a position of need. The Cowboys have Jason Witten, Gavin Escobar, James Hanna and Jordan Najvar. They need more of a blocker in the group, not only on the 90-man roster but perhaps the 53-man roster.

The Cowboys like to carry a high number of receivers and corners because of the amount of running they do in training camp. They have 10 receivers and eight cornerbacks under contract. Again, the idea isn’t to sign a name veteran to make the masses happy at this point. It’s about practice (said in best Allen Iverson voice).

The Cowboys could also gain a spot if Amobi Okoye is not fully cleared for drills. He spent most of the offseason with the team, working out, but he did not take the field as he attempts a return from a personal medical issue. Including Okoye, the Cowboys have 16 defensive linemen on the roster.

Josh Brent's playing future uncertain

February, 21, 2014
Feb 21
INDIANAPOLIS -- The agent for former Dallas Cowboys defensive tackle Josh Brent, Peter Schaffer, said he will meet with his client in the next few weeks to discuss whether Brent wants re-start his football career after his 180-day jail sentence ends.

“There’s not been the proper time for those discussions,” Schaffer said. “All of that is premature. The most important thing for him is to make sure that he’s in a good place and Jerry (Brown’s) family is in a good place, and that he has a proper direction for the rest of his life to make sure he’s doing things he wants to do and to make sure this never happens to anybody else.”

Brent was convicted of intoxication manslaughter for his role in the accident that killed practice squad linebacker Jerry Brown, who was Brent’s best friend. In addition to the 180-day jail sentence, he received 10 years’ probation.

Brent retired from the NFL last summer. He would have to apply for reinstatement, and could be subject to more discipline from the league’s personal conduct policy.

Schaffer said Brent wants to begin a program to help people learn from the dangers of drinking and driving when he is out of jail.

“His focus is on his best friend and his best friend’s family, and trying to make sure that something like this never happens to anybody else,” Schaffer said.

Schaffer said Brent has appreciated the support of the Cowboys and the Jones family through the process.

“They’ve supported him emotionally and physically by giving him a job at their warehouse,” Schaffer said. “It’s very easy to take shots at the Cowboys because they’re so public in what they do, but the things they do privately that nobody sees, I don’t think they get credit for that.”

Cowboys Twitter mailbag, Part 1

January, 31, 2014
Jan 31
IRVING, Texas – The Friday version of the Twitter mailbag is available.

In it we discuss the draft, the possible return of Josh Brent and the DeMarcus Ware's future. Thanks for the questions, and remember if you want to get involved in the mailbag, follow me on Twitter (@toddarcher) and end your question with #cowboysmail.

Away we go.


At some point Garrett can't be level-headed

December, 10, 2013
Jason Garrett Andrew Weber/USA TODAY SportsJason Garrett was calm and measured after the loss to the Chicago Bears.
CHICAGO -- A year ago Jason Garrett delivered a nearly five-minute, emotional talk about what Jerry Brown meant to the Dallas Cowboys.

Little was known about the outside linebacker, who joined the team’s practice squad after the season had started, but Garrett spoke passionately about Brown after the Cowboys beat the Cincinnati Bengals on Dec. 9, 2012, on a Dan Bailey field goal.

He connected in a way that he has been reluctant to do since taking over as the Cowboys' head coach.

Monday’s circumstances were vastly different than what the Cowboys experienced a year ago. Life is much more important than any football game.

But there was little of that emotion from Garrett after the Cowboys’ 45-28 loss to the Chicago Bears. You wanted to hear that emotion. You wanted to feel that emotion. You wanted some of that Jimmy Johnson that Garrett must have seen when he was a backup quarterback. You wanted some of that Nick Saban that Garrett must have seen when he was the Miami Dolphins quarterbacks coach.

You wanted some of that Garrett you heard from TheMMQB website when he addressed the players to open training camp. And you wanted some of the Garrett you heard in one of the Cowboys’ darkest hours after the loss of Brown.

Instead you got the measured Garrett. You got the businesslike Garrett.

It’s not that anything he said was wrong. The defense was awful. The offense did not capitalize on its chances. The Cowboys need to bounce back when they play the Green Bay Packers on Sunday at AT&T Stadium.

The Cowboys can still achieve what Garrett talked to them about in Oxnard, Calif., at the beginning of training camp. They have just lost their wiggle room. They would need the Philadelphia Eagles to lose one of their intervening two games if Dallas doesn’t beat the Packers to make the Week 17 season finale another de facto NFC East title game.

“Whatever emotion you’re talking about, we all have them,” Garrett said. “You’re disappointed in a lot of different things, but somehow, some way you’ve got to get your focus on what we need to do right now and learn from this game as coaches, as players and make the necessary adjustments to get ready for the next challenge. And that’s where our focus has to be.”

At halftime, the Bears retired Mike Ditka’s No. 89. You wanted some of that Ditka after the game. You wanted some combativeness. You wanted to see anger, not just disappointment. You wanted to hear anger, not just level-headedness.

There is a time for that. It’s when the players get back to work Wednesday. Or it’s when the coaches get back to work Tuesday.

On Monday you needed to see Garrett feel the same hurt you felt. It’s there. There’s no question it is there. He has shown it enough so you know it’s there. You didn’t need Princeton Garrett. You needed Jersey Shore Garrett.

“Certainly it was a disappointing loss for everybody and the loss stings,” Garrett said, “but the worst thing we can do is have a hangover after this loss. It’s a short week, so we have to somehow, someway when the wheels touch down tonight, we’ve got to get back to work and clean up what happened tonight and get ready for Green Bay. The players will be off [Tuesday], back in on Wednesday and we have to get back to work. You have to shake this one off. That’s the nature of this league, particularly on a short week and a big challenge for us in our plays with the Packers on Sunday.”

Garrett’s message was repeated by most everybody else in the locker room. Linebacker Bruce Carter tiptoed to the line of expressing true displeasure.

“It’s very frustrating. Kind of embarrassing at the same time,” Carter said, but then he went to Garrett-speak with, “but we’ve got to learn from it and keep pushing forward. We’ve got three games to go.”

Recapping the Cowboys' week

December, 8, 2013
IRVING, Texas – With their only appearance on ESPN's "Monday Night Football," and their Thanksgiving Day win against the Oakland Raiders it seems as if it's been awhile since the Dallas Cowboys played a game.

It will be 11 days, but as we recap the week, we will stick (mostly) with the on-field discussions about the Chicago Bears and the ghosts of December past.

Jean-Jacques Taylor is ready to believe in quarterback Tony Romo.

The Cowboys know they have to finish the season strong to make a playoff push, unlike in 2011 and 2012 when they didn't get it done.

Calvin Watkins says there's a lot on the line for Monte Kiffin this month too.

Since last year's game against the Bears, things have been different for receiver Dez Bryant.

Adrian Peterson has wondered about coming back to Texas to play out his career. Tim MacMahon offers up the Herschel Walker deal in reverse to bring him back.

JJT remembers the loss of defensive end Jerry Brown and how it has affected the Cowboys.

ESPN's Bears reporter Michael C. Wright and I bring you this week's Double Coverage.

Brent story won't get better for Cowboys

June, 27, 2013
Of course they should. The Dallas Cowboys would have been fully justified in cutting ties with nose tackle Josh Brent in December, after his arrest on intoxication manslaughter charges for the car crash that killed teammate Jerry Brown. They surely could have released him this offseason. And now that he finds himself in jail with his bond revoked for a second failed drug test, there's really no good reason for him to be taking up a spot on the team's 90-man roster. Brent isn't coming back to the Cowboys this year, or likely ever, and the chances of his NFL career ever resuming with any team are incredibly slim.

Galloway and Company discuss Josh Brent's second failed drug test and how the Cowboys should handle the situation.

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The reason the Cowboys have stuck with Brent this long is compassion. They care about him. And Brown's mother, with whom Brent is very close, has asked the Cowboys to continue to support him. He's obviously crushed by the death of his friend and his own alleged role in it, and she's worried about what he'll do if he's cut loose from the structure and support system his continued status as a member of the Cowboys offers him.

You can shout all you want about not feeling bad for Brent, and I completely hear you. The crime of which he's accused is a despicable, selfish, stupid and inexcusable one. He should be punished severely for it and very likely will. But that doesn't make the story of a 25-year-old who threw away his bright NFL future any less sad. The failed drug tests don't either. This young man appears to have no control over his own life, and that's a shame. If you don't want to feel bad for him, you're justified in that. But on the flip side, the Cowboys are justified if they care about him and want to do whatever they can to help him. That's their right, and there's really nothing wrong with a little human compassion -- even in the big, cold business that is the NFL.

[+] EnlargeJosh Brent
Matthew Emmons/USA TODAY SportsCowboys defensive tackle Josh Brent is back in jail after failing a second drug test.
At this point, though, no one's going to be able to accuse the Cowboys of a failure of compassion if they decide it's time to move on. This story isn't going to get any better, and to this point keeping Brent on the roster hasn't helped him steer clear of further trouble. He obviously needs some sort of help, but it's hard to imagine a ceremonial spot on an NFL team's roster is a part of that help. Jerry Jones, Jason Garrett and Brent's teammates can surely continue to remain a part of his life to whatever extent they feel is necessary. But continuing to keep themselves connected to Brent in the professional realm is a mistake, and the organization needs to get itself out of the business of being connected with this guy and his case. In truth, they probably could use the roster spot as well.

Don't compare this to the Patriots, who cut Aaron Hernandez while he was on his way to the courtroom in handcuffs Wednesday morning. The crimes of which Brent and Hernandez are accused are not comparable, and if the accounts we've heard of what happened in both cases are accurate, Brent and Hernandez don't belong anywhere near each other in terms of character comparisons. The Patriots' decision to drop Hernandez was cold-blooded but likely correct and easy. The Cowboys' decision to cling to Brent has been a compassionate one and hasn't cost them very much. It's just that it's reached the point at which they need to move on.

Cowboys have to let Josh Brent go

June, 27, 2013

IRVING, Texas -- A second failed marijuana test has landed Josh Brent back in jail, six months after a car driven by the Dallas Cowboys defensive tackle cost the life of teammate and friend Jerry Brown.

Galloway and Company discuss Josh Brent's second failed drug test and how the Cowboys should handle the situation.

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Immediately following Wednesday's arrest of Aaron Hernandez came a lot of hand-wringing about New England’s decisive action to release him, and the Cowboys’ decision to hold on to Brent and let the legal process play out.

Two lives have been lost, but that’s where the similarities end. According to the assistant district attorney, Hernandez allegedly orchestrated the execution of Odin Lloyd. The result of Brent’s actions came about because of stupidity, negligence and hubris.

After releasing Hernandez, the Patriots issued a statement expressing sympathy to the Lloyd family, ending it with: “At this time, we believe this transaction is simply the right thing to do.”

And that’s how the Cowboys should feel now regarding Brent.

ESPN NFL analyst Ed Werder joins the show to talk about the Aaron Hernandez arrest and arraignment and the Patriots' decision to let Hernandez go.

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They tried to do the right thing. They supported him at the request of Brown’s mother. Brent went to the facility to receive treatment for his injuries, and when the offseason began, he was allowed to work out.

The Cowboys kept Brent as close to the team as possible, even though he never took the field in an offseason practice. They have waited for the legal system to do its job. They have waited for the NFL to penalize Brent under its personal conduct policy.

And now Brent has repaid the team’s patience by failing a second drug test. How can the Cowboys ever trust him again?

On the field, Brent has shown he can be a productive player. A great player? No. Solid? Sure. And that’s part of the reason why they kept him around, while in 2003, they cut Dwayne Goodrich about five weeks after his car accident, in which two men were killed.

They knew Goodrich could not play, so it was almost easier to get rid of him, especially with Bill Parcells on board as coach.

Brent one day may play again in the NFL, but he should never wear a Cowboys uniform again.

A large sign outside the Valley Ranch locker room reads: It is a privilege -- not a right -- to play and coach for the Dallas Cowboys.

Some of you may believe Brent lost that privilege the night Brown died, but there can be no doubt that he has lost that privilege now.

It’s time for the Cowboys to part ways with Brent.

It’s simply the right thing to do.
It took the New England Patriots roughly six minutes to release Aaron Hernandez after the tight end’s arrest stemming from a homicide investigation.

ESPN NFL analyst Ed Werder joins the show to talk about the Aaron Hernandez arrest and arraignment and the Patriots' decision to let Hernandez go.

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Josh Brent is still on the Cowboys’ roster more than six months after the nose tackle’s arrest for intoxication manslaughter.

It’s natural for folks to compare the way the Patriots and Cowboys dealt with the arrested players, but this is far from an apples vs. apples case.

The dead man’s mother in New England isn’t publicly pleading with Robert Kraft and Bill Belichick to do everything in their power to help Hernandez. Stacey Jackson, the mother of deceased Cowboys practice squad linebacker Jerry Brown, made it as clear as possible how important it was to her that the Cowboys not abandon her son’s best friend after Brent’s deadly, grievous judgment error.

There is also the matter of the charges and intent of the alleged crimes.

The police in Massachusetts have yet to make the charge against Hernandez public – and the Patriots could have more information than the media – but we know that he was arrested after a homicide investigation. At the very least, he is accused of destroying evidence to cover up the crime. At the worst, he was directly involved in a premeditated murder.

There is no excuse for Brent driving with a blood-alcohol level of more than twice the legal limit, especially since he had a previous drunk-driving conviction in college, but it was not his intent to kill Brown that night in December. The guilt was devastating.

The point isn’t to argue that the Patriots or Cowboys are right or wrong. (My opinion is that the Cowboys should have cut ties with Brent by now, considering that prosecutors allege that he has tested positive for alcohol and marijuana while out on bail.)

It just isn’t fair to compare the way the Cowboys have handled Brent to the way the Patriots dismissed Hernandez. The cases are too different to judge the same way, whether you’re a judge, jury member or general manager.

Eight in the Box: Key offseasons

May, 10, 2013
NFC Eight in the Box: East | West | North | South AFC: East | West | North | South

A look at a key player from each NFC East team who needs to show something in offseason sessions:

Dallas Cowboys: DT Jay Ratliff

He missed 10 games in 2012 due to injury. He cursed out the team's owner after a game. He got busted for driving under the influence mere weeks after friend and defensive linemate Jerry Brown was killed in an accident for which friend and defensive linemate Josh Brent is facing intoxication manslaughter charges. He costs $4.072 million against the salary cap for a team that struggled all offseason to find cap room. It's kind of a miracle Ratliff is still on the roster. One of the reasons the Cowboys decided to switch to a 4-3 defensive alignment was their belief that Ratliff would thrive as one of two defensive tackles in Monte Kiffin's defense, and in order to overcome all of the good reasons they have to get rid of him, Ratliff could stand to look as healthy and dominant as possible this offseason on that defensive line.

New York Giants: RB David Wilson

The Giants let Brandon Jacobs leave as a free agent last offseason and released Ahmad Bradshaw this offseason, which means their running game has been completely overhauled. Wilson, their 2012 first-round draft pick, needs to be a big part of what that running game becomes this year. He showed last season that he has a quick burst and big-play capability, and he became a force on kick returns. Wilson should get the opportunity this offseason to show that he can handle the responsibilities of a No. 1 feature running back. With the Giants, those responsibilities include blitz pickup and pass-protection duties. If Wilson shows advancement in those areas and the ability to handle regular carries, he could keep Andre Brown in a goal-line role and decrease the team's need to find a third-down back with Bradshaw-like blocking ability. If not, the Giants could be tinkering with their run game all year.

Philadelphia Eagles: QB Michael Vick

Vick is the clear favorite to win the Eagles' starting quarterback job. He has considerably more NFL experience and more 2013 upside than any of his challengers. He still has the arm strength, the speed and the athleticism to offer the Eagles something at the quarterback position that no other team in the league has -- the stuff that has made coach after coach dream of what's possible since he was lighting it up at Virginia Tech. However, Vick will turn 33 next month and also has a well-established reputation as an injury-prone, turnover-prone risk-taker who holds the ball way too long and doesn't read defenses effectively. New Eagles coach Chip Kelly has said he needs a quarterback who can make quick decisions and unload the ball in a hurry. Vick will surely get the chance to show he can do that, and it's possible a scaled-down offense that leans more on the run game than Andy Reid's did will help. But if Vick struggles in the preseason with his decision-making and timing, he could lose the job to Nick Foles or Matt Barkley or Dennis Dixon. And if that happens, he could lose his roster spot, too.

Washington Redskins: LB Brian Orakpo

After a second consecutive season ended early due to a pectoral muscle injury, the Redskins' 2009 first-round pick finds himself having to prove something that was never an issue in his first two seasons -- that he can stay healthy. By now, Orakpo was supposed to have established himself as a disruptive pass-rushing force on par with the best in the league. He hasn't been able to do that, in large part because of those injuries. He has one year left on his contract, and there has been talk that he could get an extension prior to the start of the season, which is an appealing idea to the Redskins since they likely could get him at something of a discount due to the injuries. But if he struggles with health or effectiveness in the preseason, that's liable to make the Redskins think twice about a preseason extension, and to turn 2013 into a make-or-break year for Orakpo.

Josh Brent's trial set for September

March, 26, 2013
The case of Dallas Cowboys defensive tackle Josh Brent remains a terribly sad one all the way around. The greatest sadness is, of course, over the loss of the life of teammate Jerry Brown, who was killed in the Dec. 8 car accident for which Brent is charged with intoxication manslaughter. The news Monday that Brent's trial has been set for Sept. 23 brought it all back, and serves as a reminder that the impact of Brent's terrible decision that night will continue to be felt for a while.

There's a football component, which seems small by comparison to the real-world aspects of the Brent case, and that is that Brent obviously isn't going to be playing for the Cowboys again any time soon, if ever. This robs the Cowboys of a promising young player who would have offered them depth and flexibility on the interior of their defensive line in their new 4-3 alignment. Had Brent been available, if would have been easier to release Jay Ratliff (who idiotically and inconceivably got busted for drunken driving just six weeks later) and clear some needed cap room. But Brent is not available to them and likely will not be.

Because the likelihood is that Brent will have to go to jail for this. His charge carries a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison, and even if that's just a worst-case scenario, he's still confronting a very serious penalty. This is not Brent's first drunken-driving offense, and there appear to have been witnesses. At the age of 25, Brent is confronting the premature end of his promising pro football career and the loss of a significant chunk of his prime to prison.

And that is sad, and infuriating, even if it's the kind of thing the casual fan forgets with time. And that's why you keep writing about it, even though you know your readers would rather read about the draft and free agency and which teams have how much salary-cap room left. You keep writing about it because it's an important thing not to forget. Because if any good were to come out of an all-around rotten situation like this one, it would come in the form of a lesson learned by those of us on the outside. It's not just the NFL or other professional sports leagues that fails to take this selfish, stupid, completely avoidable crime seriously enough. It's our society as a whole. And as sad as Josh Brent's case is, all you can hope is that the fact that it's so public helps the lesson sink in and convinces somebody, some night, somewhere to call a damn cab.
The Cowboys have made only one statement, from consultant Calvin Hill, regarding the arrest of nose tackle Jay Ratliff on a driving while intoxicated charge.

Ratliff has spoken to Cowboys owner/general manager Jerry Jones about the arrest. The team is planning a meeting with Mothers Against Drunk Driving after the Super Bowl to help educate the franchise about the dangers of drinking and driving.

In less than two months, the Cowboys have had two alcohol-related incidents involving their players. Josh Brent was charged with one count of intoxication manslaughter resulting in the death of practice squad player Jerry Brown back in December.

Cowboys defensive end DeMarcus Ware was asked about the situations in an interview on Sirius/XM radio's Evan and Phillips morning show Friday from New Orleans.

"With me, I just think about making the right decisions," said Ware, who noted larger men think they can handle their alcohol better. "Sometimes you just got to get people around you that you can trust. If you’re staying out late, get a driver, get a taxi. That’s been the main thing in general with drinking and driving. In Texas, they do not play. They do not play at all with that. Just being careful with that. You got families and you have a lot of things at stake, and you have to be careful."

The Cowboys tout their player development program as helping players deal with all sorts so issues. That program will be leading the charge during this crisis.

Ware said if teammates are out having a good time, there needs to be the presence of mind for someone in the group to become a designated driver.

"You can be mad at me all you want to, but guess what? I just got you home safe, and then the next day you’re going to thank me," Ware said. "Instead of saying 'OK, I’m just not going to get into a fight with this guy and get some kind of adversity between us,' and he goes out and makes a bad decision and you're going to feel bad, so I think you got to put it on yourself to be there."

The complicated case of Jay Ratliff

January, 29, 2013
One of the big stories last week when I was off was the drunken-driving arrest of Dallas Cowboys defensive tackle Jay Ratliff. You guys know, if you read this blog regularly, that I have no patience for the ludicrously selfish crime of drunken driving or the NFL knuckleheads who engage in it in spite of ample available alternatives. Obviously, when I learned that Ratliff had been arrested for this crime a mere six weeks after teammate and friend Josh Brent was charged with intoxication manslaughter in the crash that killed friend and teammate Jerry Brown, my first reaction was that Ratliff has to rank among the biggest fools on the planet.

I also think the Cowboys should get rid of him, which is an opinion I have seen espoused in several places since the arrest and one that wasn't even ridiculous to ponder before he was arrested. Ratliff is going to be 32 when the 2013 season starts. He's coming off a poor, injury-plagued season. And the cap-strapped Cowboys can save $1 million against the salary cap if they cut him by June 1.

Jean-Jacques Taylor's latest column at ESPNDallas.com, however, asks us to push the pause button on the cut-Ratliff talk and make sure we're citing the proper reasons. Jacques thinks that while there may be perfectly good reasons to cut Ratliff, the drunken-driving arrest can't be the only one.
It's certainly a privilege, not a right, to play in the NFL, but Ratliff doesn't have a history of off-the-field issues. As far as we know, this is Ratliff's first alcohol-related incident and arrest.

Besides, would we be so willing to get rid of Ratliff if he hadn't missed 10 games to injury last season? What if his sack total hadn't decreased each of the past five years from a high of 7.5 in 2008 to none last year?

Would you want Tony Romo gone if he had committed the same dumb mistake? What about Sean Lee? DeMarcus Ware?

Good and worthy points. But my counter-argument is that Ratliff's arrest is perfectly acceptable, especially given the proximity in time to the Brent/Brown incident, as a final straw. Ratliff is aging. He is underperforming. He had it out with team owner Jerry Jones in the locker room late in the season. And now this. There is a good, strong, multi-layered case to be made that the Cowboys would be better off without this guy, and last week's arrest necessarily plays in as part of that case.

This, late in Jacques' column, did catch my eye and is worth noting:
Just so you know, among the reasons the Cowboys are moving to this scheme is they believe it will help Ratliff maximize his talent. Instead of being an undersized nose tackle who gets double-teamed every play, he can play on the outside shoulder of the guard and use his unique speed and quickness to make plays.

Fair enough, and changing your defensive alignment in an effort to maximize the talents and contributions of your players is a sensible way to go. (More sensible, for instance, than what they're doing in Philadelphia, where they have good 4-3 personnel and appear to be going to a 3-4.) But the Cowboys surely could use Jason Hatcher and Sean Lissemore as defensive tackles next season and sign a starting defensive end if they can't bring back Anthony Spencer. Or they could sign a defensive tackle and play Hatcher at end. Their scheme change isn't married to the idea of Ratliff and his position change, especially if they can't count on Ratliff to be as reliable and productive as he's been in the past.

The Cowboys need fewer headaches, not more. And they certainly need fewer drunk drivers. The very strong stance they'd be taking if they say good bye to Ratliff isn't the only reason to do it. It's just the latest, and possibly the last one they needed.

No decisions made on Josh Brent's status

January, 24, 2013
We told you earlier that Cowboys owner/general manager Jerry Jones met with nose tackle Jay Ratliff to discuss Ratliff's arrest for allegedly driving while intoxicated. The league is also looking into the incident.

Chris Mortensen joins Galloway & Company and confirms that Jason Garrett signed on with Jerry Jones' decision to remove his role as playcaller.

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There is another player in a similar situation: backup nose tackle Josh Brent.

NFL spokesperson Greg Aiello said Thursday that the league is aware of Brent's situation but won't comment until the case moves forward. Brent is awaiting a court date as a result of being charged with intoxication manslaughter in the death of practice squad player and close friend Jerry Brown.

The Cowboys placed Brent on the reserve/non-football illness list after his December arrest. The league and the Cowboys are holding off on discipline until his court case nears completion or gets resolved.

"My thinking has been dictated by the legal process," Jones said this week from Mobile, Ala. "So until we know more about timing, status, how that’s resolved there, then I won’t even think about where he is as far as his career is concerned. We’ll see. We have to, and that involves ultimately league matters as well, and more importantly, where he is in the justice system."

Jay Ratliff's time with Cowboys should end

January, 22, 2013
IRVING, Texas -- Jay Ratliff should not wear a Cowboys uniform again.

Calvin Watkins discusses Cowboys nose tackle Jay Ratliff's arrest early Tuesday on DWI charges. Police say Ratliff's crashed into an 18-wheeler with his pickup.

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Ratliff was charged with driving while intoxicated after an early Tuesday morning accident in Grapevine, Texas, just a few miles away from where teammate Jerry Brown lost his life six weeks ago in a crash that led to Josh Brent's arrest on an intoxication manslaughter charge.

Drunken driving is a huge problem everywhere, and NFL players are not immune. They are, however, afforded opportunities regular folks are not. They are paid well enough to afford limousines for a night out. They are afforded a hotline in which a car service can pick them up and take them home.

Ratliff apparently made no phone call.

The audacity of driving drunk after losing a teammate in such a manner is mind-boggling and speaks to the hubris athletes such as Ratliff have.

In the wake of Brown's death, the organization vowed to support Brown's family and Brent. They moved Brent to the non-football injury list for the final three weeks of the season, and he faces possible sanctions from the league regardless of the outcome of a potential court case or plea agreement.

Have the Cowboys set a precedent in which they now must support Ratliff?

There is a sign inside the locker room that reads in part, "It is a privilege, not a right, to play and coach for the Dallas Cowboys." Ratliff appears to have blown that privilege. This has nothing to do with a postgame dust-up with owner and general manager Jerry Jones, either.

The Cowboys cannot officially cut Ratliff, or any player, until after the Super Bowl. The collective bargaining agreement might prevent them from making a quick judgment on Ratliff anyway, at least until the legal system plays itself out. If the Cowboys need football reasons to release Ratliff, then they can point to his declining sack total the past five seasons.

But this isn't about football or the salary cap. This is about what is right and wrong.

It's time for the Cowboys to adopt a zero tolerance policy regarding drunken driving.

UPDATE (Weds., 10:25 a.m.): I let the emotion of this news story get to me when I said the Cowboys need to have a zero tolerance policy regarding drunk driving. People make mistakes all the time and are deserving of second chances. After reflecting on it overnight, the NFL and NFLPA need to adopt tougher penalties for players arrested for DUI charges, but a zero tolerance policy does not necessarily change behavior. This is not to back off my assertion that Ratliff should be released. I believe the Cowboys should move on from him for a variety of reasons, including this DWI charge so close to the death of teammate Jerry Brown.

How potential changes impact Jason Garrett

January, 16, 2013
It remains to be seen if Dallas Cowboys coach Jason Garrett will lose his play-calling duties for the 2013 season.

What we do know is owner/general manager Jerry Jones has talked about making changes after on another 8-8 finish, and he wants people uncomfortable at Valley Ranch.

Here's what Garrett said after the season ended when asked about his play-calling duties: "Yeah, again, this is 18 hours after the game last night, so we’re not getting into all those discussions right now. I would certainly anticipate the status quo from that standpoint."

That comment came, as Garrett said, the night after losing to the Washington Redskins in the regular-season finale.

In an interview on KRLD-FM, Garrett addressed the issue again: "We would just talk it through. Again, Line 1 for me in the position that I'm in is what's best for the Dallas Cowboys -- in every way, shape or form, however we're doing. Anything and everything is on the table. If we think collectively that something can help us in doing something different than we're doing it now that's going to make us a better football team, I'm open to it," Garrett said. "I've made no bones about that from the beginning. I just believe in that from the bottom of my heart."

If Garrett does release play calling duties, who should take over?

Offensive line coach/offensive coordinator Bill Callahan?

Quarterbacks coach Wade Wilson?

Is looking outside the organization an option? Hue Jackson, who interviewed for the offensive coordinators position with the Carolina Panthers this week, is somebody worth mentioning. Tony Sparano, the former offensive coordinator with the New York Jets, could be given another tour of Valley Ranch. Pete Carmichael Jr., is a free agent, after working as the New Orleans Saints' offensive coordinator this season. What about him? Jim Caldwell has done a solid job since taking over as Baltimore's play-caller. Caldwell interviewed for the Cowboys' head coaching gig that eventually went to Wade Phillips in 2007.

If Garrett loses his responsibilities, the smart money is to make Callahan taking over.

But at what cost?

Does Garrett lose power, not only in the organization, but in the locker room, too?

Players play for themselves, but they also need strong leaders in front of them. Garrett was praised by the players last season for how he handled the team during tough times. He brought the team together and bonded with his group after practice squad player Jerry Brown was killed in a car crash.

Garrett remained in touch with Josh Brent, the man charged with intoxication manslaughter resulting in Brown's death. You can even go before the season when Garrett maintained his support for Dez Bryant, who was charged with hitting his mother during an incident over the summer. Garrett talked about not only supporting Bryant, but his mother, as well.

Players notice things like that. They want to know the head coach has their back.

But does Jones have Garrett's back? By taking the play-calling duties away from him, do the players think that Garrett is on a short leash because of a potential move?

I remember what Garrett said after the season regarding self evaluation: "I have to get better. Trust me, one of the first things out of our mouth is collective responsibility, starting with me the head football coach."

Garrett said he's open to change.

But at what cost?