The Dallas Cowboys organization made a huge statement and put players on notice this week with the release of defensive player Jay Ratliff. Ratliff who was a four-time pro-bowler and spent 8 years with the Dallas Cowboys was released on Wednesday to the surprise of many Dallas Cowboys fans.
Why was this release so shocking? Partly because Ratliff hasn’t played a down since November of 2012 due to his injury and the contract extension he got from the Cowboys in 2011. Fans like me would have thought that the Cowboys would have waited to release Ratliff after the season ended or not at all even due to his salary cap numbers, but Dallas decided to release him with 10 games left to go in the season.
Media reports about Ratliff’s release have been inconsistent but speculation has been abundant. Ratliff was injured no doubt about that but the severity is uncertain and releases from the team and Ratliff’s agent haven’t given many clues as to the real reason Ratliff was released. Ratliff’s time with Dallas the last few seasons hasn’t been on the best of terms. First there was the DWI Ratliff received shortly after team mate Jerry Brown, Jr was killed in an accident where former team mate Josh Brent was driving. Then there was the big confrontation Ratliff had with owner Jerry Jones in the locker room. These specifics may have played a part in the release of Ratliff so early in the 2013/2014 NFL season. Another thing that might have played a part in the release mid-season could have been the fact that Ratliff was non-existent on the sidelines even in street clothes. Let’s take for example Sean Lee who was injured last season. He was very visible on the sidelines and supportive of his team even if he couldn’t be on the field.
Now that Ratliff has been released it sends a huge message to the team that the Cowboys organization wants players who are willing to make an effort to be apart of the team and those players who have the hunger to do whatever it takes in order to maintain that star on their helmet. This isn’t anything new for those Dallas fans that pay attention to the ins and outs of the team however. Not many fans know that only 16 players remain from when Jason Garrett took over as head coach for Wade Phillips. It’s finally beginning to dawn on even an anti Garrett fan, like me, that he really is implementing that you have to earn that star on your helmet philosophy.
The message is clear to continue to be a Dallas Cowboy, regardless of whether you are a pro-bowler, veteran or rookie, you must be a team player and have the hunger to play the game, which is good because Dallas really needs to come together as a team in order to win the next few games on the road.