Yesterday was a weird day for the Dallas Cowboys. Reports came out that returner Lucky Whitehead skipped a court date in Woodbridge, Va. after being arrested for petty larceny in Woodbridge, Va. During a press conference, Head Coach Jason Garrett stated that the team was “gathering information and would respond accordingly.” Apparently, they didn’t gather much information because shortly after the press conference Whitehead was released. Today, the police dropped the charges after it was revealed that Whitehead was the victim of mistaken identity.
— Dallas Cowboys (@dallascowboys) July 24, 2017
Today, Garrett doubled down on releasing Whitehead, stating that the decision “was made in the best interest of the Dallas Cowboys.”
You thought the Lucky Whitehead story couldn’t get any better? Listen to Jason Garrett explain why an innocent man was cut. pic.twitter.com/b556SD2fst
— Mike Barnes (@MikeB_KVUE) July 25, 2017
Whitehead was on the roster bubble as it was, but using this arrest to justify cutting him is a terrible look for the Cowboys, who suddenly seem to care about criminal records. Oddly enough, All-Pro running back Ezekiel Elliott is being accused of much more egregious crimes and the team continues to stand behind him. This is the same team that signed Greg Hardy after his spat with domestic violence, continued to employ Joseph Randle after he was arrested for shoplifting (and the value of the product stolen were significantly higher than what Whitehead was accused of) and kept Dez Bryant after a domestic violence issue with his mother.
The truth is that Dallas was simply looking for a reason to release him, evidenced by the team’s decision to not re-sign him today. They drafted Ryan Switzer last April, who is also capable of returning kicks and punts, maxing Whitehead expendable. But Whitehead’s innocence seemed to be immediately known. His agent announced that Whitehead wasn’t even in Virginia when the crime was committed and plane tickets were provided to prove it. Simply put, Dallas got trigger happy when they saw an opportunity to release him as a good public relations move, showing that they are taking a stance against their players getting into legal trouble and instead it blew up in their face. This is going to look especially ridiculous the next time a talented player gets arrested.
Whitehead’s roster status was clearly up in the air, but the theatrics was just unnecessary. A team will always take a risk on a troubled player as long as the talent makes up for it. Apparently, in the eyes of the Cowboys, Whitehead’s talent doesn’t even make up for a crime he was falsely accused of committing.