Dallas Cowboys: Risky Players, Disappointing

Jun 14, 2016; Irving, TX, USA; Dallas Cowboys linebacker Rolando McClain (55) during minicamp at Dallas Cowboys Headquarters. Mandatory Credit: Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports
Jun 14, 2016; Irving, TX, USA; Dallas Cowboys linebacker Rolando McClain (55) during minicamp at Dallas Cowboys Headquarters. Mandatory Credit: Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports /

 The Dallas Cowboys have a history of signing talented players with checkered pasts, but this group of risky players aren’t just disappointing, they’re hurting the team.

Since the days of legendary head coach Tom Landry, the Cowboys have kept players with a troubled history on their roster.

From Thomas “Hollywood” Henderson to Michael Irvin to the most recent character, Greg Hardy, Dallas always has a player with questionable behavior on their roster.

When it comes to winning, the Dallas Cowboys, past and present, will overlook  good players’ bad behavior if he can help them win Super Bowls. Hollywood Henderson’s substance abuse was rampant, using an inhaler to crisscross the gridiron after defeating the Denver Broncos in Super Bowl XVII.

Known as the The Playmaker, Irvin was suspended the first five games of the 1996 season for cocaine possession and remained on the team. Owner and general manager Jerry Jones didn’t blink, standing by his All Pro receiver to the end.

In 2015, Jones decided to sign troubled pass rusher Hardy, who had been suspended by the NFL for domestic violence assault on his then girlfriend, Nicole Holder. Jones signed the ultra-talented edge rusher because the Cowboys needed someone to pressure the quarterback, a major concern for the defense at the time.

Even after graphic photos surfaced of Holder’s injuries, Jones defended Hardy, although the defensive lineman was a cancer in the locker room and displayed temper tantrums on the sideline.

Related Story: Greg Hardy is Innocent? The Devil is in the Details

That same year, Jones drafted versatile edge rusher Randy Gregory, a top-10 pick who dropped to the second round because of a failed drug test at the NFL combine. To make matters worse, it was a scheduled drug test.

Gregory failing a scheduled drug test should have been a telltale sign.

Fast forward to 2016.

Hardy is no longer with the team. Further, Gregory and fellow pass rusher Demarcus Lawrence are suspended for the first four games of the season. Both edge rushers are suspended for substance abuse and using a banned substance.

Lawrence is disciplined for using amphetamines.

True to form, Mr. Nonchalant, retired-too-many-times- to- remember Rolando McClain is suspended for the first 10 games of the season. This marks the second straight season McClain will start the season on the NFL’s suspension list.

This is the same guy who to some degree resurrected his career with the Cowboys. Jones and head coach Jason Garrett trading for McClain before the 2014 season.

The Cowboys are missing three dynamic starters to begin the season, players the defense was depending on to make better. Lawrence was supposed to pick up where he left off from from last season where he had a career high eight sacks.

Gregory was expected to have a breakout sophomore season and play like the All American lineman from Nebraska.

McClain was targeted to play alongside linebacker Sean Lee and form a fearsome linebacking corps.

None of that will happen now because of their suspensions — selfishness that has put the Cowboys behind the eight ball. With no reliable sack artist on the roster, Rod Marinelli has to be more creative than ever to pressure the quarterback.

The athleticism of McClain hurts even more because he’s good in coverage, has long arms, speed, a ferocious hitter, and tackler. Basically, he’s by far the most talented player on defense besides Lee.

When his mental game is on, he’s one of the best linebackers in the game. That explains why the Cowboys’ brass puts up with his antics and suspensions.

With these three defensive stalwarts missing significant playing time, it is beyond disappointing because quite frankly, they cannot be depended on when needed. The old saying is “availability is the best ability”.

In addition, it messes it up for a future player who has a checkered past or any type of problems. Some players, I believe, learn from their mistakes and deserve a second chance.

Plus, the suspensions of the trio is a slap in the face of Jones. Whatever your opinions are of Jones, he will give players a chance to not only play for America’s Team, but to continue their football careers after having run ins with the law.

Adam “Pacman” Jones is one of those players, a versatile corner Jones signed in 2008 after his troublesome off-the field behavior.

He takes the heat for their off the field behavior, regardless of how awful the situation may be.

Hardy is an excellent example.

Another reason their suspensions are disappointing is that it puts more pressure on quarterback Tony Romo. The Cowboys can run the ball to protect the signal caller and score a ton of points.

However, there will be times when Romo must take over the game and win it because of a porous defense.

When Romo has to do too much, bad things happen: untimely interceptions, fumbles, and the possibility of re-injuring his shoulder or back.

Next: Cowboys Hitchens Can't Replace McClain Alone

McClain, Lawrence, and Gregory are highly disappointing, letting down their teammates when they needed them the most.

It’s a  painful reality of signing risky players.