I’ve never met Cole Beasley. I had never heard of him until the Dallas Cowboys signed him as an undrafted rookie receiver out of SMU earlier this summer. But, now more than ever he alone may best define the state of the Dallas Cowboys. Let me explain.
Beasley began turning heads in OTAs. He is small at 5’9″ but his quickness, his knack for finding the open spot, and his sure hands had many leaping to make Wes Welker comparisons. To his credit, even he balked at that. But, he continued to impress in the early part of training camp and most coaches and writers began to talk about him in terms of being “hard to cut” from the final 53. I saw some recent tape of Cowboys practices and #14 easily stood out. “Who is that?”, I kept asking myself realizing it was Beasley only after I went and looked his number up.
The Cowboys had a chance in 2008 to sign a similar type receiver in Danny Amendola but cut him and signed him to the practice squad instead. After a stint on the Eagles practice squad, he finally caught on with the St. Louis Rams in 2009. He played in 14 games in 2009 and all 16 games in 2010 recording 85 receptions and 3 touchdowns in addition to returning punts and kickoffs. (By comparison, last year’s surprise Laurent Robinson only caught 54 balls). Amendola was hurt and placed on IR early in the 2011 season. He may not be a Wes Welker (who is?), but there is clearly a place in the NFL for a quick, smaller, shifty, sure handed slot receiver that can get lost in the defensive secondary. They are possession receivers that won’t outrun too many players to score on a 75-yard bomb, but they will get you a lot of critical first downs.
Beasley might just be that guy – or at least many were beginning to believe he could be. Then, suddenly and inexplicably he decided to quit football and the Dallas Cowboys sometime early on Friday August 3rd for “personal reasons”. Let that sink in a moment. He – quit - the – Dallas - Cowboys… How many of us Cowboy fans would literally give significant parts of our own bodies to strap on a real Cowboys helmet and jersey just once and run around on the field? They would have to drag me away kicking and screaming! If you assume that each NFL team on average has 10 receivers in camp among the 90 players on the roster, then his spot on the Cowboys was one of 320 spots in the whole wide world. That shrinks to one in about 128 spots once the final rosters are decided. Quit? Personal reasons? What could that possibly be? If you played college football, then playing in the NFL is the dream of most talented players. It was within Beasley’s grasp.
Then, just as inexplicably, he decided on Monday to return to the team. And, they let him come back. As disappointed as I was to hear he quit, I had very mixed emotions about his return. I think it speaks volumes about this owner, this organization, and this coaching staff. Does it not scream loud and clear how desperate the Cowboys are for players? I respect Mr. Beasley’s right to choose whatever he wants for his own life and I wish him well no matter what happens. But, football is a team sport. You have to be able to depend on the guy next to you “in the foxhole” so to speak. Can the team now magically depend on a guy whose “heart isn’t in it”? Do you risk an all too valuable roster spot on him?
Here is the major red flag for me. If Beasley had walked away from Bill Belichick and the Patriots or Tom Coughlin and the Giants or Mike Tomlin and the Steelers, do you think they would have let him return so easily? I don’t. For that matter, I believe Jimmy Johnson would have never let him come back either. Being given a chance to compete for a job in the NFL is an honor. If you don’t want it, then there are plenty of good players out there that do. I think a great organization would have wished him well and moved on. Next guy up. It disturbs me that it was so easy for Beasley to walk away from the Cowboys and then walk right back in. I think it says something negative about the confidence and attitude of the entire Cowboys organization despite all of Jerry’s bluster.
I could have it all wrong. Some will disagree with my take on this situation. If he makes the team (not at all assured) and becomes a key player on 3rd downs helping us beat the Giants on September 5th for example, then I’ll likely have a whole different view of him. I want the Cowboys to win any way possible. I can forgive. But, I fear this is no longer a proud organization with a consistent history of winning. Our last Super Bowl win in 1996 is a fading memory. We simply cannot allow ourselves to become a revolving door for half-hearted players. Cowboy fans deserve better.
Topics: Bill Belichick, Cole Beasley, Cowboys, Dallas, Dallas Cowboys, Jason Garrett, Jerry Jones, Jimmy Johnson, Laurent Robinson, Mike Tomlin, New England Patriots, New York Giants, Pittsburgh Steelers, Tom Coughlin