The Misfits Of The Dallas Cowboys: From The Early Days To Dez


With training camp just days away, we were looking for something to write about during this time while awaiting the Cowboys start in Oxnard, California.  Well, thanks to Dez Bryant and his family we have more than enough to write about to keep us for the next few days.  Unfortunately, he had to slap his mother to get that attention.

The Cowboys are not new to having a misfit on the team, many have graced or rather have disgraced, the uniform and star they wear on their bodies.  The earliest days of Cowboy misfits can be traced back to the first season in 1960.

There weren’t names to name as many players went through that first season but those that were there weren’t exactly the cream of the crop.  The Cowboys had to pick players that were not wanted from other teams as they missed the NFL Draft that year so they got the unwanted players that other teams didn’t.  Many of those didn’t show up to practice half the time or showed to games drunk, according to early day reports from various books and magazines I have read over the last 30 years.  Head Coach Tom Landry didn’t have much choice but to tolerate the behavior until he could draft players he wanted of better character.

In the 1970, Dallas drafted Duane Thomas and one year later after a stellar rookie season, he became the first misfit known to the Cowboys.  Thomas wanted to renegotiate his original contract with General Manager Tex Schramm, but the GM rebuffed and thus started a season long of silence to his teammates, management, coaches, and the media from Thomas.  His behavior was so questionable that he was originally selected as the MVP of Super Bowl VI, but no one knew how he would behave at a banquet setting so the award was passed onto Roger Staubach.  In 1972, Thomas was eventually traded and returned by the Patriots, and then traded a season later to the San Diego Chargers.  He did attempt a comeback with the team in 1976, but couldn’t make it past the preseason.  Being the Cowboy’s first misfit was too hard of an image to shake as his career was not shortened by a physical injury but an injury of stubbornness and pride too big for any football team.

In the 1975 NFL Draft, Dallas selected Thomas Henderson and by 1977, Henderson was a starter for the Cowboys at the Strong side Linebacker position.  He was a talented and fast player, but had the love of the night life and as the Cowboys later learned, the self-proclaimed, “Hollywood” Henderson had a drug problem that ultimately ended his playing career.  Henderson would come to meetings and sleep, and then blame another teammate for having him out so late.  It was rumored that Henderson snorted cocaine during games as well.  He was a very vocal and flamboyant player who gave Landry fits.  Thankfully he realized he had a problem and Henderson has since cleaned up his life.

The Cowboys didn’t see any more problem players until the Barry Switzer years.  Ironically though, it was a player drafted by Landry and played for Jimmy Johnson during his collegiate career.  Donning the number 88 jersey, Michael Irvin was suspended for 5 games to begin the 1996 season for his arrest for cocaine possession while playing for former Head Coach Barry Switzer.  In 1998, there an incident in which Irvin was accused of cutting a rookie while performing the “Rookie Haircut”.  So needless to say, Irvin had problems while playing with the Cowboys.  After his career was over, his name continued to be surrounded by controversy.

And now to the current holder of the “Cowboys Misfit” title, Dez Bryant has had problems walking in the North Park Mall as he had his pants sagging to his ankles plus his language was horrible, according to reports.  So in 2011, he was banned from the mall.  Later on that year, he was sued for jewelry that he had bought but did not pay for.  This past weekend, Bryant turned himself in for allegedly slapping his mother during a confrontation.

This past weekend’s events further add to the laundry list of troubles this young man has had.  How the events will fold out, we shall see. What really is funny though is that I read an article today stating that Michael Irvin was disappointed in Dez Bryant’s behavior.  The last I checked, the saying that goes along with that is something about a pot and kettle.  Irvin, in this writer’s opinion has no leg to stand on to say that Bryant has let down the Cowboys.  I could write another article on this issue but Bryant has had his problems, but to hear from another trouble maker such as Irvin was it really makes you scratch your head and say, “huh?”  At least training camp is coming up soon, so we can focus on more of the Cowboys as a team, rather than just one.