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Cowboys Aren’t Responsible for a Player’s Poor Life Choices

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Cowboys Aren’t Responsible for a Player’s Poor Life Choices

Vernon Bryant / The Dallas Morning News

Cowboys Aren’t Responsible for a Player’s Poor Life Choices

With the most recent news about a Dallas Cowboys player having an “altercation,” many have thrown shade grenades in Jason Garrett and the Cowboys organization’s direction. I’m just going to casually walk over, pick up the shade grenades and lob ’em right back at you.

At some point in the history of sports, organizations like the Dallas Cowboys and the Miami Hurricanes began getting a reputation of being unruly and unable to “control” its players.

It has to stop.

Jerry Jones, Ezekiel Elliott

Dallas Cowboys Owner/GM Jerry Jones, Running Back Ezekiel Elliott #21 (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)

The Dallas Cowboys, other NFL teams, and universities in the NCAA can no more predict or prevent immature players from making immature decisions than a parent can after a child leaves the house.

Several people over on Twitter have been listing the offenses of players like David Irving, Nolan Carroll, Damien Wilson, and Ezekiel Elliott have been in the news for. Then sarcastically tweeting things like “Trust the Process” and “RKG (right kinda guy).”

Your sarcasm has been noted for the record and is summarily dismissed. The actions of individuals cannot be an indictment on a coaching staff or a front office.

Can Jason Garrett follow Ezekiel Elliott around and make sure he doesn’t drive over the speed limit or get into “altercations?” No. 

Can Rod Marinelli make sure that Nolan Carroll takes an Uber after a night of drinking? Nope. 

Is Will McClay responsible for knowing what David Irving is putting into his body? C’mon man. Absolutely not. 

Was Wade Phillips responsible for Jason Witten and Tony Romo going to Cabo during the playoffs? Negative.

Cowboys Blog - The Dallas Cowboys Trust Will McClay

Dallas Cowboys Draft War Room (Photo: Smiley N. Pool/Staff Photographer)

Too many times people look at the actions of the players of the most popular sports franchise in North America and then try to attribute their actions to the organization as an indictment of its character. That is such a lazy and false narrative.

The Dallas Cowboys aren’t any different from any other NFL franchise. They have players on their teams who make poor decisions that they as an organization have no control over. 

You can’t hire baby sitters for every player on your team to keep them “under control.” Players are people too. They make mistakes. Just like I did in my twenties and just like you did too.

Jason Garrett is one of the better head coaches in the league at getting the best out of his players and keeping them motivated. How responsible should we hold head coaches for the decisions made by a small percentage of players on their football team?

You don’t hear people talking about Bill Belichick being a bad guy or a bad coach because of Rob Gronkowski or Aaron Hernandez. You also don’t see people throwing shade grenades at Marvin Lewis for all the troublemakers the Cincinnati Bengals have taken on during his tenure.

The only time that an organization or institution should be held responsible is if they’re covering up gross misconduct. Like what happened at Baylor.

To assign blame to a head coach because of the actions of his players off the field is like blaming a Pastor for the actions of his congregants outside of the church. Can he control what they do the rest of the week? Uh-uh.

Jason Garrett can talk to his team about making the right decisions and approaching the game and life the right way, but it is up to the individuals on the football team to heed that instruction.

We’ve all received instruction from wise people in our lives. Whether it was our parents, religious teachers, coaches, teachers, or other adults; and we didn’t always heed that instruction.

If I made a decision that didn’t fall in line with the way my parents were trying to raise me, it wasn’t my parents fault.

As a parent myself, my goal is to raise my daughter to make sound and wise choices. She won’t always make the right decision, however. Just because she will make a bad choice one day, isn’t an indictment on my parenting. There will come a time in her life where the responsibility for her decision-making will firmly fall on her shoulders. My wife and I will be there for her if she’s in a jam, but the responsibility will be hers.

That’s a part of life.

We make mistakes, learn from them, grow from them. For some people, especially guys, it can take much longer to grow up.

Personal responsibility, though it’s being diminished more and more every day, matters for something. No one is responsible for the actions of the players off the field aside from the players making those decisions.

Jason Garrett and the rest of the organization can’t be with players 24/7. They do their jobs when they are with the players and hope that their instruction takes hold in the mind of the player.

There comes a time in every man’s life where he has to take personal responsibility for his actions and his maturity.

The Dallas Cowboys as an organization can’t decide when that is for any player.

John Williams

I didn't start out as a Cowboys fan, but I got here as quickly as I could. I grew up a Joe Montana fan when he was with the 49ers and followed him to the Chiefs, until we moved to Texas. I've now been a Fan of the Boys since the Dark Days of the Post-Aikman, Pre-Romo era of abysmal quarterback play, now relishing in more than a decade of franchise quarterbacking for America's Team.

6 Comments
  • Bruce Budner

    You are right that each player ultimately must take responsibility for his actions. But I am not a big believer in coincidences. And so when a long list of Cowboy players run afoul of NFL rules and/or the law, longer in recent years than any other team, one must consider whether something about the organization is at fault. I am no insider and so can’t pin the precise blame. But whether it’s Garrett not impressing on the players the importance of good conduct or the Joneses neutering Garrett in this respect or something else, one can’t simply write this problem off by saying the Cowboys have just been unlucky. Something else is going on. If the organization doesn’t look itself in the mirror, I fear the problem will continue.

    • John Williams

      At the moment the Dallas Cowboys have two players suspended. The Baltimore Ravens lead the league in the amount of money players have been fined and the New York Jets lead the league in the amount of players suspended.

      It isn’t a Dallas Cowboys’ issue, it’s a NFL issue.

    • John Williams

      You’d be surprised to learn that Dallas ranks 25th in suspensions and 19th in fines since 2002.

  • Mauricio Rodriguez

    So glad you talked about this subject, John.
    People are quick to point fingers at coaches when they really shouldn’t. As you said, Baylor was a case in which it is fair to do so. Not this though. Great job writing this.

    • John Williams

      Thanks man. I just think it’s so easy to look at the most popular and most talked about team, see they have a guy in the news for trouble, and believe that it’s the organizations fault.

  • http://www.facebook.com/DallasCowboyBooksBlog fgoodwin

    John, you are right that colleges and teams cannot be responsible for the actions of their players.

    What they CAN do however, is not tolerate or enable such behavior. By keeping such players after multiple repeated instances of breaking the rules (or laws), such organizations are enabling the bad behavior. Yes, persons s/b responsible for their own actions.

    But when do organizations go from merely being the team the player is a member of, to actively enabling such behavior by constantly looking the other way, or worse yet (as in the case of Jerry), making excuses for their bad behavior?

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