The messy divorce between the Dallas Cowboys and former Pro Bowl nose tackle Jay Ratliff has reached an new battlefield; the team has filed a complaint against Ratliff for his conduct and apparent deception that prompted the Cowboys to release him from his contract. On Monday, team owner Jerry Jones announced that the team has escalated its attempts to have their concerns with the issue addressed.
"This type of conduct, unable to play for us one day and a few days later working out for another club, is undermining and needs to be addressed.’’ - Jerry Jones
This complaint filed by the Cowboys seeks to set a precedent for how cases similar to the one that the team went through with a disgruntled player who is still under contract are handled in the future. In this specific case, Dallas is attempting to recover some of the compensation that Ratliff received for services not rendered. The whole situation is a gray area that is not specifically addressed in the current Collective Bargaining Agreement. As a result, not only the team and Ratliff are involved, but also both the NFL Management Council and the NFLPA. Regardless of the outcome of the Cowboys complaint, new ground will be broken. The outcome will likely set a standard that the NFL, and perhaps other professional leagues, will follow in the future.
Although Jones refused to address the options open to the Cowboys, it is clear that the team is far from pleased with the way the former seventh-round draft pick betrayed the team that actually took a chance on him and allowed him to become a star in the National Football League.
"There are other avenues. We’re discussing those. And looking carefully in this case how it might fit in as a grievance.We’re assessing the form and how to address that; we’re working on it with direction from the NFL management council.’’
From a business standpoint each of the 32 teams that make up the NFL have a vested interest in how this story plays out. After all, if Jay Ratliff is allowed to get away with the stunt he pulled to get out of his contract, it won't stop with one player. Any top athlete would then be able to make a similar move to secure his release and move on to another team with impunity. Clearly there has to be some sort of counter-measure to help maintain the competitive balance and parity that the league strives for. The NFL's system of checks and balances would be circumvented by allowing this type of action to continue unabated. The Jay Ratliff case, if nothing else, should provide that.