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Sunday, September 22, 2013
Jason Hatcher leads by example

By Calvin Watkins

ARLINGTON, Texas -- Dallas Cowboys defensive tackle Jason Hatcher turned into the Speaker of the House.

After Wednesday’s practice, he spoke to his teammates and named names. Not in the way you would think he did, but just in general. He mentioned players such as DeMarcus Ware, Tony Romo, Jason Witten and himself as leaders.

Hatcher said everybody needs to play better.

Everybody.

Jason Hatcher
Jason Hatcher's actions spoke volumes Sunday in the Cowboys' win over the Rams.
Hatcher is irked his private chat with his teammates slipped through the proper channels and got to the media.

There was this report Hatcher was upset at a pick-six Romo threw in practice and he decided to call out Romo.

“That’s a complete fabrication,” Romo said to ESPN Dallas. “It’s funny how people make this stuff up.”

Hatcher said it never happened and referred to his quarterback as his brother and said he loved him.

“I think those reports are inaccurate,” coach Jason Garrett said of a beef between Hatcher and Romo. “One of the things we try to do as a football team is empower the people. Get everybody invested. Get players invested, get coaches invested and guys to take leadership roles. This is their football team.”

Oh, yeah, the Cowboys had a game to play Sunday and did so, beating the St. Louis Rams 31-7 at AT&T Stadium.

The Speaker of the House spoke to the team after the game, too, thanking them for their efforts.

Hatcher set the tone early with a tackle on the first run play. Hatcher finished with two tackles, a sack, a tackle for loss and three quarterback hits.

The Cowboys seem to be playing with a chip on their shoulder these days. Maybe all of these 8-8 seasons have finally upset some stomachs.

As you get older, you look back on your life with regret sometimes. The Cowboys review the 2006 playoff loss to Seattle and Romo’s fumbled snap on a field goal try as a wasted opportunity. The next season, a No. 1 seed and first-round bye wasn’t good enough as the Cowboys were knocked out by the New York Giants in the NFC divisional round.

In 2009, the Cowboys were a better team, but not as good as Brett Favre and the Minnesota Vikings in the divisional round and lost.

In 2011 and 2012, the Cowboys could have clinched a playoff berth with a victory in the regular-season finale. The Cowboys lost both times.

And now this season, after a season-opening victory against the Giants, the Cowboys lost in Kansas City, 17-16, in Week 2.

Hatcher had seen enough.

“It was supposed to be private,” Hatcher said of his chat. “I don’t do stuff for attention. I’m just a number, I’m not a name, I’m not a star player, I’m a role player. I do my job on this team, that’s what I do. I’m not trying to get in the media and be the face of the franchise. I’m serving my purpose and I’m doing what I feel I’m supposed to do. I’m doing everything from my heart. That’s me in a nutshell. I’m not out here trying to get it back to the media. I don’t know how it got back to the media -- it wasn’t supposed to -- it was for my teammates and not for anybody else’s ears.”

Hatcher said he didn’t need to set the tone for his team. Yet, it was needed because whenever you step up in front of your family and tell them to improve, you better be out front.

“In fact, it’s inspirational with Hatcher, especially inspiring the team, and of course those guys backing it up with [their] play,” Jerry Jones said. “In order to really make that work, [you do it] with emotion and persuasion when you need to be a real player.”

One of Hatcher's closest friends on the team, like Romo, supported him.

“It’s just how people should play and we played that way this week,” Ware said of Hatcher's talk. “Everybody calls us a roller-coaster team and we’re not trying to be that. We’re trying to be consistent every week.”

The Cowboys (2-1) are in first place in the NFC East. Hatcher asked reporters who the Cowboys play next week because he honestly didn’t know. (It's San Diego.) The only thing Hatcher watches on TV is "Breaking Bad," and that series is about to conclude. So Hatcher is taking this one-game-at-a-time approach seriously. His focus is on the Cowboys and not so much on what's happening at his alma mater, Grambling State, which fired coach Doug Williams recently.

Hatcher's focus is on ending these roller-coaster seasons. He wants sustained success.

"We look too good on paper, man, to let games like Kansas City slip through our fingers," he said. "And we came out and we played it well [Sunday]."