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Wednesday, January 23, 2013
Updated: January 24, 1:57 PM ET
Time to show Jay Ratliff the door

By Calvin Watkins
ESPNDallas.com

MOBILE, Ala. -- What more can the NFL do? What is it going to take to get through to some of these men?

Not even the death of a teammate could stop Dallas Cowboys nose tackle Jay Ratliff from allegedly driving while intoxicated.

Jay Ratliff
Jay Ratliff was arrested Tuesday and charged with DWI after he crashed his 2011 Ford pickup truck into an 18-wheeler.

There was Ratliff, wearing a white T-shirt, sporting a puffy face and a sad look while posing for a mugshot in a Grapevine, Texas, police station early Tuesday morning. He was charged with DWI after crashing his 2011 Ford F150 into an 18-wheeler at 12:36 a.m. No one was injured.

The look on Ratliff's face is different from the scowl he displays in the Cowboys locker room on a regular basis when reporters walk in. I'm sure it's a different look than the one he had when he was arguing with Jerry Jones late in the 2012 season. (I know that look from personal experience.)

What was Ratliff thinking? If he didn't learn from Josh Brent crashing his car and killing his teammate/best friend Jerry Brown on Dec. 8, he'll never get it.

Maybe the only real way to prevent, slow down or stop NFL players from driving drunk is to cut them when they do it.

It's time to send Ratliff home. If he gets a second chance, it should be somewhere else.

Some in the Cowboys organization believe Ratliff is still a productive player who will benefit from playing in a 4-3 scheme. A new defense might jumpstart a career slowed by injuries that limited Ratliff to six games in 2012.

But after this? Send Ratliff packing and find another defensive tackle in the draft or via free agency.

The Cowboys paint themselves as America's Team. They are supported by fans all over the country at stadiums across the NFL. Games featuring the Cowboys are routinely among the highest-rated on television.

The team is active in the community. Players visit children's wards of hospitals across North Texas during the holidays. The Cowboys support the Salvation Army and causes such as breast cancer awareness. They hold an annual photo-op of the rookies loading a truck with Christmas gifts.

All of those activities are admirable and have entrenched the Cowboys as part of the community.

But when a player loses a life because of drinking, and less than two months later another player gets charged with a DWI in a separate incident, it should enrage that community.

It's hard to release Ratliff, but it must be done.

The Cowboys have a social responsibility to do it. We know the Cowboys don't condone drinking and driving. Jones can talk forever about player development programs and a possible league fine or suspension for Ratliff. That's not enough. It's time for Ratliff to go.

For a change, the Cowboys have to ignore the business of the NFL and move on without Ratliff. He had never been in trouble with the law, but coming off the Brent incident, something has to be done.

If Ratliff is released, it saves the Cowboys $1 million. If he's a June 1 cut, the Cowboys save $5 million, but $4 million in dead money is held over in 2014.

Cowboys officials and Ratliff's agent declined to comment the last two days. All we have is Ratliff's smashed-up car on a state highway just miles away from where Brown was killed.

Doesn't Ratliff remember the memorial service in Dallas for Brown? Doesn't Ratliff remember the pain his team went through in Cincinnati just trying to get through a difficult time?

Ratliff is beloved in the locker room. He mentored Brent, called him after he was arrested and is one of the emotional leaders of the team. He loves his family and teammates.

But after Tuesday's incident, the NFL and the Cowboys need to make an example of him. Cutting Ratliff won't stop drinking and driving, but clearing out his locker might help the next player who leaves somewhere tipsy from doing it.

Maybe.

We won't know until the Cowboys cut Ratliff.

Do it today.