While half of America’s electorate swoons over a reprobate ex-president, a man who was once nicknamed “America’s Mayor,” and his loyalists’ mugshots, America’s Team has embraced the same recidivism in a desperate bid to halt the Cowboys’ 30-year Super Bowl drought. Jerry Jones’ response following Dallas Cowboys defensive end Sam Williams’ latest arrest for possession of a controlled substance and unlawful carrying of a weapon in Frisco, Texas, spoke volumes.
“Everything I know about it, won’t impact his time on the field,” Jones said in a surprisingly measured response.
If he’d just stopped there, we could move on, but of course, Jones can’t help himself.
“This sounds a little hollow but he does and is maturing. And he is,” Jones said. “What was he going, 66? Was he going 66 miles an hour? This year? So he’s 34 mph less than he was ... so that’s improvement.”
For reference, here’s the car Williams totaled when he was cited for speeding in December. The owner of America’s Team making a joke about a recidivist player is extremely on-brand. Jones has made it his mission to scour the landscape for talent ensnared in the legal system’s web. Jones’ poor impulse control would explain why he favors drafting and signing such controversial free agents.
The expectations for Williams this upcoming season were that he’d become an integral part of their defensive pass rush. Now, he’ll certainly face a suspension. Character is destiny though. Drafting Williams in the second round in 2021 was already a gamble due to his background. By the time he was 21, Williams had been expelled from his first high school and arrested for felony sexual battery while at Ole Miss during the summer of 2020. (The charges were dropped.)
The Cowboys will give Williams a third, fourth, and fifth chance because Jerry Jones is a shameless lunk whose moral compass is guided by flatulent winds. Don’t forget that this is the same man who defended Dan Snyder until the end and allegedly has denied the existence of a daughter for decades.
In 2007, the Cowboys signed Tank Johnson to a two-year deal while he completed an eight-game suspension related to a gun charge. However, Johnson’s suspension was relatively tame compared to the acquisition of former Pro Bowl pass rusher Greg Hardy.
In 2014, Hardy was arrested in connection with the brutal assault of his ex-girlfriend. He was found guilty in a bench trial, appealed, and the charges were dropped after his alleged victim failed to show up for the jury trial. After a year on the exempt list, Jones was all too happy to scoop him up. After returning from a four-game suspension, Hardy immediately made disrespectful remarks towards Tom Brady’s wife and sister, and got into multiple sideline altercations, including one with a special teams coach. (Hardy was later arrested for cocaine possession in 2016, but was a free agent at the time. He was indicted but struck a plea deal.)
Then there’s Aldon Smith. In his debut season, Smith finished half a sack short of Jevon Kearse’s rookie record, then threatened Michael Strahan’s sack record in his sophomore season. In his 42 career games, Smith recorded 43 sacks, but his arrest record was equally long. Unfortunately, Smith’s career was derailed by a domestic violence arrest (he was convicted by pled no contest to two of the four charges), a struggle with alcoholism, an arrest for illegal assault weapons after a party he was stabbed during, a detainment related to allegedly making false bomb threats at Los Angeles International Airport (he ultimately wasn’t charged), and multiple DUI arrests, including a hit-and-run.
(Editor’s note: Per NFL.com: “Smith received a 12-day sentence and three years of probation following a no-contest plea to three felony weapons charges and two misdemeanor DUI charges. The weapons charges, and one of the DUI charges, were in connection to a 2012 party at Smith’s residence where he was stabbed.”)
After 16 games with the Cowboys in 2020, Smith was permanently out of the league. Prior to Sam Williams’ run-in with the law, you just have to look back at the ill-fated signing of wide receiver Antonio Callaway for an example of Jones’ Cowboys giving unrepentant figures a second shot.
Like Williams, Callaway raised more red flags than a Confederate reenactment. He was suspended by Florida following sexual assault accusations (he was cleared of the charges), tested positive for marijuana at the NFL scouting combine, stopped for driving with a suspended license during training camp as a rookie and didn’t inform the team. After an impassioned apology, he was suspended for the first four games for violating the league’s substance abuse policy. In January, the Cowboys signed Calloway to a futures contract. That gamble wasn’t as costly as others, but it was still another demerit on Jones’ front office. There’s another theme developing here. The Cowboys rarely pan out.
Dallas was served some karmic justice by sticking with Randy Gregory through his first five turbulent seasons. During that period, he missed 54 games between 2015 and 2021 for violations of the league’s substance abuse policy. Gregory’s inability to stay active made him a running joke. After recording six sacks in 12 games after missing four due to injury, Gregory agreed to a five-year, $70 million extension with the Cowboys. However, Gregory reneged on the deal over salary-forfeiture language related to off-the-field conduct and inked a similar contract with the Denver Broncos instead.
It was Jerry Jones who leaped at former LSU offensive lineman La’el Collins after he went undrafted when reports emerged that he was questioned by detectives in connection with the murder of his pregnant ex-girlfriend. Collins was ultimately cleared, but Jones’ hastiness was indicative of his willingness to hold a potentially live grenade.
If you want to have an idea of what the Cowboys’ offensive or defensive line will look like, just examine the police blotter. As for Williams, the Cowboys will hold out hope that he’s finally learned his lesson, but I wouldn’t bank on it. The parade of mugshots the Cowboys are willing to give a pass to in exchange for benefit might be the most disconcerting sign yet that they are in fact America’s Team.
Follow DJ Dunson on Twitter: @cerebralsportex