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America’s Team has become America’s Nightmare. The Dallas Cowboys organization, racked by injuries early in the season, has begun to unravel from within. The primary perpetrators are Greg Hardy and Dez Bryant., assisted by Jerry Jones and Jason Garrett. Bryant unleashed on reporters last Friday in the Cowboys locker room while Hardy again had to be separated from a teammate on the sideline in Dallas’s game against the Buccaneers; Jones and Garrett continue to enable behavior detrimental to the organization.
Bryant felt that he was being portrayed inaccurately in articles and tweets and he took out his frustrations on reporters and team personnel in a profanity laced tirade. This was not an isolated incident.
Earlier in the season Bryant lashed out at reporters following the Cowboys week eight loss to Seattle. When it looked as if he was taunting Seattle receiver Ricardo Lockette as he lay motionless on the turf he was questioned by journalists, that’s when he profanely denied the action, stating that he was praying for the injured Seahawk.
But Bryant’s antics are the prelims; the main event is the ever evolving issue surrounding Greg Hardy.
Hardy, found guilty of domestic violence in a bench trial, settled out of court with the victim. He was declared a free agent in March of 2015 and signed with the Cowboys later that month.
He was suspended by the NFL for 10 games; the suspension was reduced to four games in July and Hardy joined his new team.
In his five games with Dallas Hardy is hardly a force, he has 10 tackles and four sacks. Perhaps his frustration is what is causing his emotions to run amok.
In his short tenure in Dallas Hardy has alienated friend and foe alike:
When is enough?
Jerry Jones and Jason Garrett have lost control of the team and the time has come for Jones to fire Garrett and then fire himself and fill the role with a competent general manager who will clean house.
Jones and Garrett continue their tacit support of Hardy and Bryant’s childish behavior, calling Hardy a team leader and not rebuking him for his actions, referring to the player as “passionate”.
Hardy’s issues are more serious than the Cowboys realize; discussing a contract extension despite his numerous outbursts makes Dallas the laughingstock of the league. The locker room has to be divided over his domestic issues and his on-field actions. With Romo out of the lineup no one has emerged as a team leader, and poor behavior is tolerated rather than dealt with behind closed doors. Hardy should be the first cut.
Dez Bryant, who is not playing at full strength, is a very talented receiver, but his talent does not overshadow his lack of maturity and self-control. With Romo still unable to play, Bryant had the opportunity to lead the Cowboys on the field and off. Instead he has become frustrated and lashed out, unable to channel his emotions into positive actions and consistent play. He’s next to go.
As NFC East opponents continue to struggle the Cowboys find themselves still in the playoff race. At 2-7 they are only three games behind the Giants and two behind Philadelphia and Washington. That presents a dilemma for Dallas.
The Dallas defense keeps them in games, while their offense is abysmal. The return of Romo certainly will give them a better chance to compete, but it won’t change the persona of the team.
I look for the Cowboys to attempt to salvage their season with Romo at the helm. If they don’t have the expected success they will begin to play for draft position.
Regardless of how the Cowboys play the rest of the season they need to cut bait with Hardy and save face with fans and the league. No team in the NFL will be willing to take on the negative impact in the locker room and on the PR front.
Next Dallas should look for a suitable trade partner for Bryant. He has enough talent that a number of teams may be willing to deal with his tantrums and offer draft choices in exchange.
Following this season of turmoil the Cowboys must complete a total overhaul of their organization that includes the front office, coaching staff and personnel. Character and integrity should be the focus of the next regime.