If availability is ability, it’s been a tough offseason for the Dallas Cowboys.
Randy Gregory – suspended.
DeMarcus Lawrence – suspended.
Rolando McClain – suspended.
Randy Gregory – suspended some more.
It is terrible news when you lose three key defensive players before training camp even begins. This is a big blow to the team. Someone has to be held responsible. Is this Jason Garrett’s fault? Is he too soft and players are putting their own needs before the needs of the team? Or does this come from a lack of doing homework as players with known red flags before coming to the team, not surprisingly – mess up? Whatever the reason, the Cowboys have some problem players on this roster. So far for 2016, Dallas is leading the way in suspensions and it’s not even close.
Is this the type of team full of right-kind-of-guys Garrett is looking for?
Because these are just three players. And while that’s quite a bit on this chart, there will be 50 other Dallas Cowboys on the roster that we will be excited about. This team is laced with great character players.
Pay no attention to the team’s $108 million quarterback taking the time to pull over and help an elderly couple when they had a flat tire. And that same quarterback bought a ticket for a homeless man so they could go into the theater, sit next to each other, and watch the movie "Role Models." Not a lot of millionaire football players would do things like that, but Tony Romo did.
And if you don’t see the type of great character person Jason Witten is, then you’ve been missing out. He founded the SCORE foundation that helps demonstrate positive male behavior for families affected by domestic violence. A great man is helping others become great men.
But the outreach of kindness isn’t only directed to those with two legs. The teams All Pro left tackle is addicted to rescuing dogs. Tyron Smith has six of them. He might be known for those big powerful hands, but he also has a big heart.
Jason Garrett preaches that this team defines itself by what they do and there is a lot of good being done.
Orlando Scandrick is well respected by Cowboys fans. As a fifth-round draft pick in 2008, he will always be seen as a steal, but his attitude caused teams to pass on him. Scandrick’s swagger has been on display his entire career and his choices haven’t always been good ones. He was suspended two games for taking recreational drugs while vacationing in Mexico. He was also ejected for bumping an official in training camp practice. Who does that? Answer - someone who is passionate about the game.
Jason Garrett has been clear that not everyone they bring into the Cowboys is a finished product. These are real people with free will. They will make several everyday choices that will have a huge impact on how their lives progress. How many people were worried about Dez Bryant’s character when he was drafted? He had a rough upbringing and got himself in trouble his last year at Oklahoma State when he wasn’t honest about his involvement with Deion Sanders. He wasn’t allowed to play in his final season in college in 2009. But look at the career he’s had. Dez has become one of the very best wide receivers in the game. His passion, his preparation, his commitment to getting better – have helped make him the great player he is today. The Cowboys took a chance on him and it has paid off.
Coach Garrett is trying to create a culture for success in Dallas. There are going to be players that choose to put their own needs ahead of their teammates. But there are also guys that will put the team first, even if it cost them $2 million. That’s exactly what happened when Sean Lee made the decision to sit out in week 17 last year because of an injured hamstring. Some might have wanted to play through it to get that nice bonus, but Lee felt he wasn’t going to be effective in helping his team.
So while it’s easy to be upset at the actions of a few, this team is filled with a lot of "Right-Kind-Of-Guys." Garrett is on to something and it will pay dividends. If you listen to his players speak, you can see his message getting through. Players hold themselves accountable, they don’t make excuses, and they never throw their teammates under the bus.
Not like this guy who had this to say...
"There weren’t a lot of people who, so to say, had my back during that game, that’s for sure. In my opinion,"
After doing this...
Not sure you’re going to find a lot of teammates offering up their support for things of this nature.
The Cowboys suspensions hurt, but you have to feel good about the culture of this team. The front office will take notice and you better believe they’ll be more discriminate when evaluating these red-flag players. You’ve all seen the leaked draft board. Joey Bosa was never going to be a Cowboy. Noah Spence’s name was nowhere to be found. And despite how desperate the team is for a good edge rusher, Greg Hardy won’t be coming to Dallas.
So, believe in the players this team has. The players who work hard and are available to help the team. Because if the Cowboys can just have enough of them, winning football games will follow.