Even when the Cowboys underwhelm, they seem to be at the epicenter of the NFL. That’s one reason why they’re so polarizing. Somehow they linger on the edge of the spotlight when they go 4-12 as they did in 2015, in a season where they:
1) threw sacks of cash at a monstrous sociopath to strengthen their defense (which didn’t work).
2) twice lost their franchise QB to a broken collarbone (thanks to that stellar offensive line that never fails to protect him–wait, that doesn’t make sense).
It has been nearly two decades since they last won the Super Bowl, yet they’re still regarded by many as an elite team. Ever hear about those stars that are so many light years away from Earth that once we see them in the present, they’ve already burned out? Such is the star on the 50-yard line at AT&T Stadium.
Another reason why the Cowboys are scorned is because they call themselves “America’s Team.” They’ve been underachievers since the days of phone booths, but since their hype just keeps going, that never feels like enough comeuppance–especially when considering the parade of scofflaws owner Jerry Jones has enabled. Really, the best karmic payback we can hope for is a dream-come-true in which a Dallas Cowboy finally gets arrested on an episode of COPS.
If America’s shadiest team combined forces with America’s best reality show, minds and TVs would start a race to blow up first. The media would at last have to display the grim truth about the Cowboys. Michael Irvin might not even ask for his face to be pixelated so that he could cut a promo for the NFL Network. So, cue that Inner Circle jam on your playlist (HUH!) as we count down 14 other Bad (Cow)Boys. Whoa! This is too easy.
15. Bernie Kosar, QB (1993)
He’s better known for his great seasons in Cleveland, but mocking the Browns is downright mean and nothing says a player was part of the ’93 Champs quite like having a run-in with the law. Enticed by the extremely simple, hard-to-pass up deal of getting one million dollars to back up Troy Aikman for one season and win a Super Bowl, Bernie’s shining moment came in relief of an injured Aikman in the NFC Championship Game against an excellent 49ers team. Number 18 threw for 81 yards and a touchdown without turning the ball over and the Cowboys prevailed. On a not-as-awesome-for-Bernie note, he did get busted for operating a vehicle while straight-up wasted in 2013. After getting pulled over for drunk driving, maybe he dropped his keys as he stumbled out of the car, giving new meaning to “The Drive and The Fumble” (OK. Sorry, Cleveland!).
14. Dez Bryant, WR (2010-present)
A premier receiver with game-breaking talent, Dallas ignored all the usual phrases like “character concerns” and “off-the-field incidents” and picked the Oklahoma State standout late in the first round (Fun reminder: An improper visit with ex-Cowboy Deion Sanders made him ineligible for his final nine games at OSU–so way to go, Prime Time). Dez showed promise in his first two seasons before posting gaudy numbers from 2012-2014, amassing 3,935 receiving yards and 41 TDs during that span. His fans were less stoked when he turned himself in for a misdemeanor domestic violence assault against his own mother (who had dealt crack-cocaine to pay the bills as part of his troubled past). The incident occurred in 2012 and since then, Dez has shown signs of maturing in ways that make less likely to appear on COPS. He will be out for revenge against at least one Sportster writer in week four of fantasy football.
13. Randy Gregory, DE (2015-present)
Fresh out of rehab in mid-September of 2016, this pass-rusher saw his draft stock drop after he tested positive for marijuana at the NFL combine. We can only imagine Jerry Jones rubbing his hands together excitedly as he pulled the trigger on the Nebraska stalwart late in the second round, vowing: “Oh, but I can change him, same as I done with Pacman Jones.” Presently, it remains unclear if Gregory will be suspended for four games or face a steeper penalty, but it does remain clear that the guy loves weed. Although the herb is legal to some degree in half of the States, it’s probably best to do without if your employer that’s paying you millions of dollars kind of frowns down on puffing. Plus, for now, anyway, pot can still be the cause of a cameo on COPS.
12. Sherman Williams, RB (1995-1999)
The first but not last weed trafficker on our countdown, Sherman Williams served as backup to the NFL’s all-time leading rusher, Emmitt Smith. The Cowboys spent a second-round pick on him because of his stellar career at Alabama, where I’ll bet the Tide wasn’t the only thing he liked rollin’, but too many fumbles hurt his impact on Dallas’ running game. From career backup to released, his career plummeted, from a semi-pro league to one of those “What am I doing with my life?” phases to getting sentenced to seven years in prison for distributing a whole lot of hippie lettuce in 2000. When asserting that football made him tough enough to endure prison, Williams said: “I would think things that would kill the average man wouldn’t even make me flinch.” That’s a pretty gritty statement coming from a guy whose name always reminds us of a harmless can of paint!
11. Rafael Septién, K (1978-1986)
A former soccer star in Mexico, Rafael Septién made the change to an exciting sport as a kicker for the University of Louisiana at Lafayette. As a Cowboy, he had a productive career, receiving All-Pro accolades in 1981. As a man who allegedly did a subhuman thing, he was culpable for the egregious crime of mishandling a ten-year-old girl. As part of a deal to lessen his sentence to a decade of probation, Septién pleaded guilty to a charge of indecency with a child in April of 1987. He has nonetheless asserted his innocence, claiming it was his overly affectionate nature with kids that led to the “misunderstanding.” He did admit guilt, however, and when viewers see a perp like that getting escorted into the back of a squad car on COPS, they don’t mind if he smacks his head on the edge of the roof.
10. Joseph Randle, RB (2013-2015)
Joseph Randle was expected to become the team’s next 1,000-yard runner when DeMarco Murray left via free agency in 2015. That didn’t happen, as it seems he got sidetracked by a dubious goal: Getting himself on COPS. That didn’t happen, either, but it wasn’t due to a lack of effort. It started with a Class B Theft of cologne and underwear from a department store in October of 2014. Stealing bottled scents and boxers must be a gateway crime, since a drunken Randle was arrested for assaulting security guards at Kansas Star Casino in November of 2015. By then, his misconduct was too much for even the Cowboys to tolerate (from a non-Pro Bowler). His string of crimes continued in February of 2016, when he was cuffed for aggravated battery, possession of pot and hallucinogens, and criminal damage to property. At the time of this writing, he’s being held at the Sedgwick County Jail in Wichita, Kansas, so it’s possible he’ll get on the COPS spinoff Jail.
9. Rolando McClain, LB (2014-present)
Another Jerry Jones reclamation project who could be on COPS any day now, McClain’s vice is codeine and he’ll serve a ten-game suspension in 2016. A year prior, he was ineligible to play in the first four games due to problems with substance abuse. Were there warning signs to suggest it was a bad idea for Dallas to keep signing this guy to one-year contracts? Yes! Big time! Before inking his first deal with the Cowboys, McClain had been charged with menacing, reckless endangerment, third-degree assault, discharging a firearm within city limits, giving an officer a false name after being pulled over for a tinted windows violation, disorderly conduct, and resisting arrest. Dude, Joseph Randle called. He wants you to tone it down.
8. Leon Lett, DT (1991-2000)
The Big Cat was a great player, but he’s so easy to hassle. He squandered a touchdown on a fumble recovery to a hustling Don Beebe by slowing down and showboating before he got to the goal line in Super Bowl XXVII. On a Thanksgiving game against Miami in 1993, he became the first player ever to muff a fumble recovery of a field goal his own teammate had blocked to ensure victory for the other team. Lett also got suspended for substance abuse a staggering number of times. In his career, he missed 28 games due to misconduct. An example of why it was OK to boo the Cowboys even when they were winning in the ’90s, Lett now serves as the team’s assistant defensive-line coach.
7. Lance Rentzel, WR (1967-1970)
A fantastic athlete who made the transition from running back to receiver, Lance Rentzel was a showman who displayed razzle-dazzle opposite Hall of Fame wideout Bobby Hayes. He scored a touchdown in the Ice Bowl, surpassed a thousand yards in ’68 and found the end zone 12 times in ’69—the same year he married TV star Joey Heatherton (a vixen with a name like a mob capo and curves like Marilyn Monroe). In 1970, however, the man utterly and disgracefully self-destructed by exposing himself to a ten-year-old girl. When news of his arrest broke, reports resurfaced of a similar incident involving two underage girls in Minnesota a few years earlier, when he had been a Viking. Heatherton divorced her hubby in short order and the Cowboys also cut ties with him. Should the aging Rentzel ever get busted on COPS, let’s just hope it’s for possessing the wacky tobacky (which he was convicted of in 1973).
6. Quincy Carter, QB (2001-2003)
The heir apparent to legend Troy Aikman, Quincy Carter was rushed into the starting role as a rookie. Results were mixed. While he did throw more picks than touchdowns over three seasons (29-36, with a subpar rating of 70.0), on the bright side, he led his team to the postseason in 2003. That was his last season in Dallas, however; he was cut for failing a third drug test before the ensuing preseason. Not long thereafter, his NFL days were numbered. He only lasted a month quarterbacking the Montreal Alouettes of the CFL due to his substance abuse, and then his arrest sheet got prolific. Carter is a repeat offender when it comes to DWIs and pot possession, and his more ghastly crimes occurred in 2010 and 2013, when he drunkenly battered and choked a woman for breaking up with him and later hurled a child safety seat at another girlfriend. Few Cowboys are more overdue to have their Miranda rights read to them by a cop while a cameraman and a boom mic guy hover nearby.
5. Erik Williams, T (1991-2000)
He blocked for Hall of Famers Emmitt Smith and Troy Aikman as a bookend of one of the best offensive lines ever put together, won three Super Bowls, and got invited to Hawaii for the Pro Bowl on four occasions. Less admirably, Williams has pleaded no contest to charges of drunk driving and been sentenced to two years of probation for colliding with a highway ramp, causing him a season-ending injury (1994). He was also accused of sexual assault (acquitted, but he got himself into an all-around sketchy situation with an underage girl, 1995), arrested on drug and sexual assault charges (2001), and taken into custody for assaulting his wife (2002). Honestly, COPS could film 20 episodes per season in the Dallas/ Fort Worth area and that still wouldn’t be enough.
4. Nate Newton, G (1986-1998)
Another hefty talent on that outstanding O-line, Nate Newton earned six Pro Bowl nods and was dubbed The Kitchen since he was even larger than William “The Refrigerator” Perry. His forays into a potential COPS appearance didn’t start until after his playing days, when he decided to rep the star by trafficking 213 pounds of marijuana on November 4th, 2001. Since that wasn’t enough pot to eclipse his playing weight, he got busted again a mere five weeks later with 175 pounds of reefer in his vehicle. Those 388 pounds of smuggled dope got him 30 months in federal prison, but now he’s cleaned up his act and found God. How ’bout that Cowboy?!
3. Adam Jones, CB (2008)
Pacman evades justice like his namesake evades those four ghouls. Seriously, how is this guy still playing in the NFL? He had his Cadillac seized in a 2006 cocaine bust, but the ride was not registered in his name at the time, so he went unpunished and later bought the car back at a police auction. That’s the perfect, maddening Pacman story: He’s been busted countless times without receiving a long-term prison sentence. Dallas brought him over from Tennessee knowing about his rap sheet: felony vandalism, assault, public intoxication, obstruction of justice, disorderly conduct, etc. Furthermore, they knew he was the instigator of a tragedy at a Las Vegas strip club in 2007, when Pacman made it rain $100 bills, “for visual effect,” he later claimed, and then objected when an exotic dancer started collecting the cash. He allegedly smashed her head on the stage. Security fought him. Chaos ensued. A lowlife rumored (but not proven) to be in Jones’ entourage opened fire, shooting two people and paralyzing a man. Years after the incident, in January of 2015, it’s worth noting that Pacman was forced to pay $11 million to the paralyzed man and $1.3 million to the wounded security guard. A known recidivist, Pacman Jones was suspended for all of 2007 for this heinous crime.
2. Michael Irvin, WR (1988-1999)
The Playmaker was one of the best receivers of the ’90s. In addition to those three rings that no amount of Cowboy-bashing can erase, Irvin can claim 750 catches, 11,904 yards, and 65 touchdowns in his illustrious career. He was also a top-performer in the postseason, trailing only Jerry Rice’s all-time marks in catches and receiving yards. Another advantage Rice has over Irvin is that JR was never swarmed by cops in a hotel room while he snorted blow off a stripper’s breast. Let’s overlook the time Irvin sliced a teammate with a pair of scissors, his other drug arrests, and the sexual assault allegation he settled out of court in 2007 (which he countersued for) and simply focus on how awesome it would’ve been if the COPS crew was along for the ride when Playmaker’s face emerged from a stripper’s cleavage with his eyes bewildered and white powder smeared across his face.
1. Greg Hardy, DE (2015)
A Pro Bowler in 2013, after which we can only surmise the state of Hawaii told him to stay out because he was too scary, let’s skip past how many career sacks this guy had and focus on the downfalls of Greg Hardy. He’s the prototype of a toxic hellraiser, who, despite excelling at football, is not worth the damage he will do to the integrity of an organization. The Cowboys paid him $11.3 million — so no one outside of their fan base had any sympathy for them when they finished last in their division. Busted for domestic violence, those two words don’t fully convey the gruesome truth that Hardy nearly took a woman’s life with his bare hands. He slammed her onto a futon strewn with assault rifles and choked her. Forget COPS, I wish some Navy Seals would’ve rushed in to punish him, but there wasn’t enough justice in America to deal with Greg Hardy. And Jerry Jones sure didn’t help.
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