There has often been a misconception that being a model citizen is part of being the Right Kind of Guy that Jason Garrett often speaks of as being his ideal player. It is easy to look at a Tony Romo, Jason Witten, or any of a number of Dallas Cowboys players who give back off the field and make that assumption, but nothing could be further from the truth. Yes, they are all RKGs, and role models as well, but those traits can be mutually exclusive. Garrett has referenced Michael Irvin as his ideal kind of guy. Irvin, as we all know, had his share of troubles.
This year the Cowboys staff will be faced with several players who have off the field habits that make them a cause for concern. There is free-agent acquisition Greg Hardy, for example. His off the field issues are well documented. He will serve some form of penance for domestic violence at the start of the season. They also have the underwear bandit, Joseph Randle, who has faced arrest twice in a five month period for stealing underwear and possession of a controlled substance. There are also rumors of a domestic altercation and a weapon being involved in the incident that lead to the drug related arrest.
In addition to the pair listed above, the Cowboys also added Randy Gregory in the second round of the most recent NFL Draft. Gregory admits that he is "immature" and has made some recent bad judgments. The most recent of these mistakes was failing a drug test at the NFL Scouting Combine. That was a lapse in judgment that caused him to fall outside of the first round in the draft.
The Cowboys will have to juggle keeping these guys out of trouble while also focusing on the task of getting the team ready for the upcoming season. This is something that recent experiences has prepared team personnel to do. In the Garrett era alone the Cowboys have been forced to deal with off the field distractions caused by a few players, just as several other squads have been forced to deal with. Experience makes a good teacher.
Dez Bryant is a perfect example of this. During the early days of his career the team has been forced to deal with several issues regarding his off the field activities and lack of maturity. Most of us remember the "baggy pants" incident at a Dallas area shopping mall and then there is the slapping case involving him and his mother. The team managed those cases quite well They also guided Bryant through some financial issues and worked with him on how to manage his new-found financial prosperity. In part, due to the team's efforts, Bryant is maturing into a leader on the team and he is becoming a respected part of the community.
Dallas also has experience dealing with substance abuse issues. Josh Brent was convicted of intoxication manslaughter for his role in the drunk driving death of his friend and teammate Jerry Brown. The team stood by Brent and worked with him to get treatment for his problems. This was done without minimizing the consequences of Brent's actions. Dallas has proven that the club can help players with substance abuse issues in a positive manner while not making excuses for the transgressions.
Not only is the leadership structure capable of managing the so called "bad boys" on the roster, the locker room appears to be a tight knit unit. The players are open in their support for each other. Here, too, there is accountability that is provided in equal measure with support. Veterans such as Witten and Romo provide mentoring for younger players while setting a good example for the rest of the team to follow. Even Bryant is starting to become something of a leader in this fashion. The presence of stars that lead by example makes it hard for other players to venture too far astray when the big dogs are walking a fairly straight and narrow path.
The Dallas Cowboys have reached the point where the club is solid enough that the front office can take some risks by bringing in players who are not in the choirboy mold. Structures have developed to the point that guidance and mentor-ship is available. The leadership team and the locker room have grown over the past few seasons. The Dallas Cowboys are ready to meet the challenges offered by taking a few calculated risks.