Last month, the Dallas Cowboys organization had to overcome the tragic death of one of their players that was blamed on alleged drunk driving. So, having one of their veterans arrested for a possible DWI would be the last thing you’d expect. Apparently, defensive tackle and former Pro bowler Jay Ratliff didn’t learn anything from that terrible incident.
Ratliff was arrested on a charge of driving while intoxicated after his pickup truck hit a tractor trailer and then slammed into a highway barrier early Tuesday morning in Grapevine, TX. Neither Ratliff nor the driver of the tractor trailer were injured in the accident.
Ratliff failed a field sobriety test at the scene and was subsequently taken into custody. When he arrived at the Grapevine jail, Ratliff refused to take a Breathalyzer test. Police then obtain a blood sample from him via a warrant. Ratliff bonded out of jail later that morning by posting $500.
Back on December 8, 2012, Cowboys’ defensive tackle Josh Brent was arrested and later indicted on a second-degree felony charge of intoxication manslaughter after his 2007 Mercedes S60 flipped, killing fellow teammate Jerry Brown Jr. The Cowboys’ organization, and especially their defensive line players, struggled with their emotions after the tragic accident.
With this latest incident, Ratliff essentially re-enacted the same actions that caused the death of his fellow lineman just over a month after that fatal accident. And although the outcome did not result in the same tragic ending, it certainly will damage Ratliff’s public image, his reputation within the Cowboys’ organization and ward-off any other prospective NFL teams.
Speaking to the latter, Ratliff signed a five-year, $40 million contract extension with the Cowboys back in September 2011. But there have been rumblings about his possible release this off-season. The fact that Ratliff was injured for all but six games last year was probably the biggest contributor to that rumor.
But the recent addition of defensive coordinator Monte Kiffin and the revelation that the Cowboys defense will be switching to a 4-3 scheme makes Ratliff more valuable than ever. The team sorely needs additional defensive tackle depth. And despite this latest incident, it hard to imagine a scenario where Dallas would release the eight year veteran. In essence, this incident should not effect Ratliff’s status with the Cowboys. And maybe it should.
Yes, Ratliff is only human. And humans make mistakes. But after the Brent accident, you would think every Cowboy player, especially the veterans, would be extra sensitive and extra careful not to repeat those mistakes. That is exactly what makes Ratliff’s actions even more disturbing.
It also speaks volumes about Ratliff’s personality. And his lack of personal responsibility could also explain why his career has been injury plagued. What are the chances that a player who chooses to drive while intoxicated, and probably has a lifestyle where this isn’t the first time, is responsible enough to keep his body in top physical condition?
Unfortunately, this incident will only continue to sour the public’s overall perception of NFL players and other professional athletes. Their “above the law” attitudes and reckless actions probably speak more to our deficiencies as a society then their over-bloated egos.
Still, if the death of a teammate wasn’t influence enough for Ratliff to resist drinking and driving, maybe nothing will be. And that is truly sad.