For months, the Dallas Cowboys have strung both themselves and fans along when it came to the injury status of All-Pro defensive tackle Jay Ratliff. The four-time Pro Bowler was expected to be at full-strength this season after missing ten games last year due to ankle and groin injuries. After straining his hamstring during a pre-training camp conditioning test, Ratliff would mysteriously go on to miss both training camp and the entire preseason. He was eventually placed on the PUP list and expected to return sometime very soon. Finally, nearly seven weeks into the regular season, we now have the truth about Ratliff’s absence and he has been given his outright release from the team.
During a conference call today with dallascowboys.com, Ratliff’s agent Mark Slough revealed to the media the real reason his client was out all of that time. What was diagnosed as a groin injury or sports hernia last December was actually far more serious. Ratliff apparently had the muscle ripped off his pelvic bone in two places. It was an injury doctor’s projected would take up to a year to recover from. And according to Slough, the Cowboys training staff knew this all along:
“The Cowboys doctors and staff were supervising all of his treatment. They knew where he was and what he was doing, and they were intimately involved. There wasn’t any miscommunication there.”
If this is true, why did Ratliff even attempt a conditioning test in the off-season? Why all the build-up for his return after the preseason? Why was now the time to release him?
There obviously was a disconnect between Cowboys officials and Ratliff somewhere. There even seems to be a level of distrust between them. This new information concerning his injury may also further explain the incident between Ratliff and Owner Jerry Jones last December.
In the locker room after their victory over the Philadelphia Eagles on Dec. 2nd, Ratliff had to be restrained by teammates after Jones “encouraged” him to return from his groin injury. The enraged Ratliff quickly dressed and stormed out. This is a reaction you might expect from a player hurting more than he’s letting on. Although never formally addressed, it appears Ratliff thought Jones was questioning his toughness and dedication to the team. Things between the two haven’t been the same since. But according to Ratliff’s agent, that’s now all in the past.
“There’s no ill will. Jay’s not upset, he’s not mad, he’s not angry. I’ve been with him quite a bit over the last two days, he and his wife both, talking about the possibility of what might happen today. I think he understands the business side of this and understands this is a chance for him to make a fresh start.”