The Dallas Cowboys microscope was closely focused on practice Friday. There was a verbal confrontation between some players. The incident itself was really not a big deal, but it is an interesting illustration of how America's Team is covered. Some reports give a straightforward account, while others give the impression that the reporters are hoping eagerly that it will turn into a major situation.
The event in question involved Joseph Randle, Dez Bryant, and Jason Witten. It grew out of Randle's now infamous arrest for stealing some underwear and cologne, and the recently released video of him while he under arrest in the jail. The video, unfortunately, shows Randle being what can be euphemistically termed a real jackwagon. There are more things to shake your head about in this than we really want to get into, but two things from the recording are pertinent to what happened on the field.
Randle compares his arrest to Ray Rice domestic abuse, talks about Dez Bryant's domestic violence case with his mother.
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Randle also discusses how one teammate suffered consequences for more serious crimes.
"Josh Brent, he's still up in the locker room," Randle said. "He was driving drunk. That's stupid."
In these statements, Randle was not just doing his impression of all those guys turning around and flipping up their kilts in Braveheart. He was compounding his boorishness by throwing a couple of his teammates under the proverbial bus.
The release of the video brought all this out, and it appears that one of the underbus throwees, Bryant, had something to say to him about it. He and Randle were reportedly jawing back and forth in the way alpha male pro athletes will. A brief consideration of the situation would lead most to conclude that Bryant had a right, and as a team leader perhaps a duty, to call Randle on his behavior. Randle was not inclined to take the chastisement. He then had the error of his ways gently explained to him by Jason Witten, according to this account from CBS11 in Dallas.
"Alright, don't say another (expletive) word!" Witten yelled at Randle at the opening of the workout. "Alright? Don't say nothin' from here on out. Don't talk about it."
It is probably time for Randle to carefully consider his situation. He is a backup running back (to the top running back in the league, who is setting records with his performance). He has now been braced by two of the team's leaders. He is not in what you would call a strong position.
When you read some coverage about this, it is presented as something that happens in an NFL locker room filled with very aggressive, very physical men who make a living colliding with other very aggressive, very physical men. (Just as an additional factor for Randle to think about, at 6-00 and 210 lbs, he is one of the smallest guys in that locker room.) But other outlets seem to focus on the possibility of friction on the team, at least judging by the title of one of the video clips they have.
Speculation soon broke out on Twitter about whether Randle might be cut, which seemed a bit over the top. That was soon confirmed by one of the highest sources in the organization.
Have Cowboys considered releasing Joseph Randle? Stephen Jones on @1053thefan: "We're keeping all of that internally...That's all internal."— Jon Machota (@jonmachota) October 31, 2014
Meanwhile, Jason Garrett was not commenting on the situation (surprise, surprise). But not commenting does not mean he was not involved.
@fishsports and I just observed Joseph Randle going into The HC office and door closed. Here is stern talk number 2.— Bryan Broaddus (@BryanBroaddus) October 31, 2014
Randle is learning that Locker room has it's standard for being a Cowboy and HC has their backs. HC-Locker room all on same page.— Birddog26 (@Birddog26) October 31, 2014
A player got a bit of a lesson in what is expected of him, and we all got to see how things are done in the Dallas locker room. The attempt to stir this up into a major issue seemed to die out pretty fast, although there is an excellent chance that it will come back up. For now, Randle is still DeMarco Murray's backup and has a role on the special teams as well. This may come back to haunt him after the season when the Cowboys are making some decisions about who to keep, but for now, it is not going to change much. It was just a blowup between teammates, which happens all the time in the NFL.
You wonder if anyone would have noticed if this had not been between players that wear Stars on their helmets. It is time to move on and worry about more important things. Like chocolate.