- Calvin Watkins, ESPN Staff Writer
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He should have been released when the 2012 season was over for numerous incidents including getting into a shouting match with Jerry Jones. But Ratliff was given another chance, with Jones even calling the moody player a son. Ratliff acted like a lout after he was arrested for a DWI in January for getting into it with police in Grapevine, Texas.
The Cowboys said it was a mistake and the franchise would do better in terms of educating its players about the abuses of alcohol by working with MADD. It was amazing Ratliff would involve himself in an alcohol-related incident especially after teammate Josh Brent, who replaced an injured Ratliff in the lineup, was charged with intoxication manslaughter just a few weeks prior.
The offseason didn't get better for Ratliff. He battled with the teams' respected strength and conditioning staffers, who were only trying to help him return to the field. Instead, Ratliff lost trust in them as he recovered from a sports hernia surgery.
When training camp started, the Cowboys told the media and their fans the new 4-3 defensive scheme would benefit Ratliff because he would no longer face constant double-teams and instead would take on guards and centers one-on-one.
But Ratliff's health remained a problem. He injured his hamstring while passing the conditioning test and didn't even practice. Ratliff was on the practice fields in Oxnard, Calif., watching his teammates put in the work he desperately wanted to be a part of.
As the season started, Ratliff remained on the PUP list, but the Cowboys allowed him to rehab in two different locations. No reason was given, but the team didn't believe it was a problem because there was a hope Ratliff would return.
Ratliff was eligible to practice on Monday but didn't step onto the field because he wasn't ready from a health standpoint. Ratliff met with team officials about his future instead.
For all the trouble Ratliff caused in the past few months, he didn't seem to be worth anybody's time or effort. The Cowboys valued him greatly and what he could do on the field, but toward the end of his time with the Cowboys there was always some sort of drama with him.
Where was the production on the field?
NFL teams will put up with you for only so long because you can produce on the field. Once that stops happening, it's time to move on. The Cowboys made a mistake in holding on to Ratliff for as long as they did.