Thanks to reader Robert Brauer, a lifelong resident of Dallas-Fort Worth, for this followup to my post yesterday about Lucky Whitehead:
Lucky Whitehead was not released because of this shoplifting issue; he was released because his play was not up to snuff, and the Cowboys drafted a player, Ryan Switzer, this past spring who has been tagged by most sports reporters as being Whitehead’s replacement. The Cowboys were going to cut Lucky no matter what.
The only thing that changed was the timing of the release. As you may be aware, the Cowboys have had a rash of off-field legal incidents involving various players this offseason (most notably Zeke Elliott). Furthermore, the team has been criticized in recent years for its supposedly lax attitude towards the moral failings of its players (the signing of Greg Hardy two years ago being a paramount example). Jerry Jones is, like most other NFL owners, desperate to make it look like he is taking the concerns regarding domestic violence and other bad behavior by players seriously. To that end, when a marginal player like Lucky Whitehead appeared to have gotten into some hot water, Jerry saw a perfect opportunity to serve him his walking papers, and preach stentorian from the mount on how he doesn’t tolerate this sort of tomfoolery.
So what we have here was an attempt to make a decision that had already been made for one reason look like it was made for an entirely different reason… and like so many other things Jerry Jones has done in his tenure, it blew up in his face. The true issue here is the continued lip service that NFL team owners pay towards the issues at hand, cutting a player like Whitehead (who barely contributes to the team) when he apparently gets in trouble, and leaving other, more important players (like Elliott) on the roster, even when they may find themselves legitimately in trouble.