BY Art Thiel 06:12PM 10/29/2015

Thiel: Seahawks get a look at Cowboys mess

Cowboys DE Greg Hardy is as good a player as he a pain as a teammate. But the owner/GM of the Dallas Cowboys, whom the Seahawks play Sunday, cares purely about winning. He’s not winning.

Cowboys owner/GM Jerry Jones doesn’t worry about a player’s character, only his talent. That works until it doesn’t, then it gets ugly. / NFL.com

Under Jerry Jones, owner/general manager/narcissist-in-chief of the Dallas Cowboys since 1988, the franchise has always been the old Dodge City of the NFL, a place where renegades, desperadoes and varmints could be among one another without much interference from the law.

The latest dubious dude to join the Jones Gang is DE Greg Hardy, who high-tailed out of North Carolina after a trail of domestic abuse and firearms complaints had him  in the NFL hoosegow. But a little dirt never stopped Jones, so the Cowboys signed Hardy after his release by the Panthers.

After a judicial conviction, the NFL sentence was supposed to be for 10 games But since no witnesses to the abuse, including the alleged victim, a former girlfriend, came forward during Hardy’s appeal, legal charges were dropped. The NFL, either out of ignorance or fear or both, reduced the sentence to four games.

That means he’s in uniform when the Cowboys host the Seahawks at 1:25 p.m. Sunday. A formidable pass rusher, Hardy presumably will be after all of the Seahawks’ horses, whiskey and saloon girls. But that’s his job for a team that finished 28th in the league last year in sacks.

What has Hardy’s name ablaze in the dime novels again was his conduct among his teammates during a 27-20 loss to the Giants, the fourth in a row for the Cowboys — as many defeats as they had all of last season.

Along the sidelines late in the game, Hardy’s second as a Cowboy, he castigated teammates, swatted at the clipboard of an assistant coach, who shoved him back, and argued with WR Dez Bryant, who himself has, as they say in human resources, anger-management issues.

The video of the episode was found amusing by Seahawks DE Michael Bennett.

“I think it’s kind of ironic that Dez Bryant was telling him not to have an outburst,” he said Wednesday. “(Bryant is) one of the main guys in the NFL that has a lot of outbursts. I guess he’s changing too.”

Jones’ reaction to all this outbursting? Sunday he called Hardy “one of the real leaders on this team and he earns it with respect from all of his teammates. That’s the kind of thing that inspires a football team.

“He’s just getting guys ready to play, in my view. I don’t have any issue with him being involved in motivating or pushing in any part of the football team.”

Not only was there no suspension, nor even a stern lecture, there was praise for Hardy’s inspirational use of coach/teammate badgering on national TV. Presumably if he hired Hannibal Lecter and directed him to the Cowboys cafeteria, Jones would later tell police, “I swear I told him to eat with the fellas.”

Hardy is neither the first nor last to have a sideline argument, but he is a player with a history of conflict — a high-maintenance personality. Which, when a team has a four-game losing streak and is down to a third-string quarterback for a game against the two-time-defending NFC champions, is not helpful.

During a teleconference call with Seattle-area reporters, Cowboys coach Jason Garrett was asked whether he was concerned about the team’s image, or is that a problem for Jones. Garrett was oblique.

“There are things that will come up from time to time that we have to address as coaches, and our philosophy is a simple one: Address it, solve it, and move on,” he said. “We try to do that as well as we can. So if he, or anybody else, needs to . . . you know, if we need to address any issues with those guys, we’ll certainly do it.”

Hmm. Not sure that meant things were solved. But the answer was a little better than Hardy’s repeated response Sunday to reporters’ queries: “Next question . . . no comment; next question, no comment . . . ”

Somehow, Hardy does not bring nearly the panache to a non-answer answer that Seahawks RB Marshawn Lynch does. Which brings us to the point that Seahawks fans would be wise to not be too smug about the disarray in Dallas.

The Seahawks just had a week in which two players in separate incidents had car wrecks that narrowly averted tragedy. In April, the Seahawks hired with a second-round pick DE Frank Clark, who was thrown off his college team after a purported episode of domestic violence. Charges were subsequently dropped, and Clark has had no further reported conduct issues, but the Seahawks walked into controversy they didn’t need, nor did they manage it particularly well.

No team is immune to the seduction of glorious football talent, no matter how much dubious behavior comes with it. But Tuesday on Showtime’s  Inside The NFL show, New York Jets wide receiver Brandon Marshall had the guts to call out Hardy’s act and Jones’ role in its perpetuation by enabling him.

“When I look at Greg and how he’s handled himself, on the field and in the locker room, I see a guy that is not aware,” Marshall said, via ESPN. “He doesn’t understand the magnitude of what happened last year, what he did and the atmosphere surrounding the NFL.

“I don’t think that he gets it. I don’t think that he learned his lesson. He really needs to look himself in the mirror and ask himself, ‘What type of person do I want to be?’”

Marshall has some credibility on the subject, having gone through multiple emotional episodes in his time with the Chicago Bears, after which he sought counseling.

“Every game I know there’s going to be two or three cameras in my face,” he said. “Why? Because I’m a high-emotion guy and because of my history. I am aware.”

Not only does Marshall say Hardy is unaware, it’s the same for Jones.

“Right now Jerry’s only focusing on the player,” Marshall said. “It’s time for us to start talking about the person.  If we want the product on the field to be great, if we want to protect the (NFL) shield, then we have to approach both the same.”

Therein lies the problem for Jones. Nearly every NFL general manager/coach takes on high-risk, high-reward players because winning always comes first. If the team wins, all is forgiven, or at least forgotten or marginalized.

For all the aura surrounding the Cowboys, since their run of three Super Bowl championships in four years that ended in 1995, they haven’t been back. In the subsequent 20 years, the Cowboys have had eight winning seasons, none of which has included as much as a conference final. They are a sports empire in decay, thanks mostly to Jones’ player-personnel foolishness.

If a team strongman is going to be negligent when it comes to player character, winning big is the only cover, because fans then indulge all. Lose, and the ugliness is laid bare.

 


YourThoughts

  • 1coolguy

    Excellent column Art. When Jones fired Landry, in the manner he did, that’s when the world learned who he was: A classless, egotistical narcissist where the end justifies the means, always. His hubris was in fine display when he thought Jimmy Johnson was expendable and he could simply bring on another coach: Switzer lucked out for one year with the table set, then absolutely nothing for the past 20 years.
    Jones is what gives wealthy people a bad name – he is the worst.
    I ALWAYS cheer for any team that is playing Dallas.

  • coug73

    Jones is all Texass.

    • art thiel

      You may not be the first to that.

  • PokeyPuffy

    Some great colloquialisms in this piece. As a native Texan and part time varmint I can say job well done!
    Game-wise, i fear this could go either way and I hope the Hawks aren’t assuming the Plowboys will roll over. Spoiler is a great role for any team, especially with national coverage.
    And tempo wise, the ghost of Southwest Conference past will be present. run run pass punt.

    • art thiel

      Thanks. Your varmintcy secret is safe with me.

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  • jafabian

    I’m surprised Jerry hasn’t picked up Ray Rice yet.

    • art thiel

      He may yet have to.

  • Kirkland

    I remember hearing an ex-Cowboy, I believe, discussing Jones’ personnel philosophy on sports radio when the Harvey thing broke. In the late ’90s, Jones wanted to draft Randy Moss, but stayed away due to Moss’ character question marks. Then Jones watches Moss have a fine career while staying out of trouble. That changed his philosophy, according to that person; focus on talent, and not worry about character as long as the player’s legally cleared to play (which Hardy is, unbelievably).

    The flip side to Jones is someone like Tim Ruskell, who focused on character over talent but ended up with a string of bad draft and signing decisions.

    • art thiel

      Good point about the Jones/Ruskell contrast. Carroll sits in the middle, taking some risky players he thinks he can reach, but being will ingto accept some failures, such as Harvin and Moffitt.

  • notaboomer

    brandon marshall is a breath of fresh air in the nfl. someone not afraid to speak on touchy subjects and thoughtful. i’m surprised he’s still subjecting his head to the brain damage though.

    • art thiel

      Marshall has obviously seen his behavior as self-destructive. Hardy has not. And you can’t expect many young men to walk away from a job that in many instances will be most of the money they make for the rest of their lives.

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  • notaboomer

    Frank Clark, who was thrown off his college team after a purported episode of domestic violence.

    don’t like “purported.” maybe go with “after an incident in which his then girlfriend told police that clark ‘punched her in the face’ and witnesses reported that she ‘was definitely beat up’ and ‘looked unconscious.’”

    the Seahawks walked into controversy they didn’t need, nor did they manage it particularly well.

    try “team executives claimed that they had conducted a thorough investigation
    into the Clark incident but either failed to consider or ignored the police report and its victim and witness statements and made no apparent attempt to interview the victim or witnesses themselves before committing to clark.”

    hate to see these events gets whitewashed. fans should be aware of who and what they
    are cheering for.

    http://deadspin.com/the-seahawks-didnt-care-whether-frank-clark-punched-a-w-1702249803

    • art thiel

      No whitewash here. That would be the case if I didn’t reference it regarding topics about behavior. But I won’t rehash it at each mention of his game in a football post after the case has been closed. If he screws up again, damn straight it gets an airing.

      • Its onlySports(DavidWakefield)

        If you read Arts pieces he was quite adamant in his critical view of Clark and the Incident. Did I miss something?Did Clark knock a clip board out of Richards hand?Has he brought attention to himself via negative Behavior?

        So far no shame or DUI … car wreck fiasco frm Clark.

        Only time will Tell if he becomes the new Leroy Hill but halfway through the Season all quiet on the (PAC N.W.) Western front……

  • Its onlySports(DavidWakefield)

    Them Varmints are going down….Dez B is back?Who gives a hanging noose(unless Jerry Jones is swinging from the ropes end)?
    Lil
    voice in my stomach….er head…. sez the Sherminator is going to shut
    him down @ we avenge last years HICCUP at home culminating with them
    cattle~rustlers catchin’ us when we were Percy Harvin Vulnerable and
    yucking it up…up…ity up when we lost to the Boastful ones from the
    Star City.

    Everythin’is big in Texas inc the Braggarts who will face
    payback Nov1…

    Like the lone star?Its the Lone win for ole saddle sores this time around!
    Hawks win big! Hawks win Big!!!!
    Enjoy it this wknd 12s!!!