The Dallas Cowboys are riding high right now. With Tony Romo at quarterback, one of the top two offensive lines in football, arguably one of the top two wide receivers in the NFL, picking up one of the top pass-rushers in the game, and getting top value on their draft picks (which also includes the signing of prize undrafted free agent lineman La'el Collins of LSU) the Boys are expecting to make a run at the top prize, the Super Bowl.
Behind all of the sunshine of their prize pick-ups and one of the most powerful and wealthy owners in all of sports in Jerry Jones, there may storm clouds gathering.
The acquisition of Greg Hardy, Randy Gregory and the situations involving Dez Bryant, Rolando McClain and even Morris Claiborne may bring about a combustible chemistry situation that they’ve worked hard to avoid in the last few years. McClain is already on the team. Some say he didn't deserve to play last year after all the trouble he had in the past.
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Incident number one: on December 1, 2011, McClain was arrested by Decatur, Alabama police and charged with third-degree assault, menacing, reckless endangerment and discharging a firearm inside city limits for a shooting incident that occurred the night before.
On May of 2012 McClain was found guilty on all counts and sentenced to 45 days in jail for each charge,180 days in total. Eventually he appealed the case and the charges were dismissed after the victim decided not to press charges. A financial settlement was reached between McClain and the victim.
Incident number two: on January 8th 2013, he was arrested by Decatur police after an officer pulled him over for a window tint violation. McClain provided the officer with a false name and he was arrested and booked into the Decatur City jail.
Incident number three: on April 21,2013 he was arrested for disorderly conduct and resisting arrest. His numerous arrests speaks to his decision-making capabilities.
As for Randy Gregory, he was projected as a high first-round selection in the 2015 draft by various mock-drafts. However, after failing the 2015 NFL scouting combine drug test for marijuana, he was passed over during the first round of the draft and fell to the second round.
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Next on this list is Greg Hardy. He was obtained as a free agent after the Carolina Panthers released him for being convicted for domestic abuse. On July 15, 2014 hardy was sentenced in North Carolina to probation.
Such bench trial convictions are automatically appealable. The case was eventually overturned because the victim did not show in court. Also, on May 1 2015 he drew the wrath of fans everywhere (Cowboys fans included) when he responded to a tweet by a Carolina Panthers fan that showed a picture of tall second round wide receiver Devin Funchess standing next to tall second year wideout Kelvin Benjamin, referring to them as the "twin towers".
He followed this by saying "didn't the Twin Towers get blown up lol". He is already suspended the first 10 games of the 2015 season.
Another person with whom the Cowboys have issues is long time stalwart, Dez Bryant. Dez had a troubled upbringing, born to a fourteen year old mother who was arrested for dealing crack cocaine when he was eight years old.
He went on to live in eight different homes while at Lufkin High School. All this led to a troubled adult life even though he's had a brilliant career on the field. On October 2009 he was suspended the last ten games of his junior season at Oklahoma State University for lying to NCAA investigators about a legal lunch meeting with Deion Sanders.
In January 2012 he was arrested and charged with a class A misdemeanour of domestic violence after an incident in Desoto in which he allegedly slapped his mother, Angela. To make matters worse, the Cowboys gave him the franchise tag instead of giving Dez the long-term contract that he craves.
In article by Will Brinson/NFL Writer, on March 1,2015, he stated "Dez won't be happy. He made it abundantly clear he prefers not to be treated as someone the Cowboys are dating. He wants that ring on his finger, Dallas". Most NFL players don't like the franchise tag because it means less financial security.
Last on this list is the contract situation with Morris Claiborne. The Cowboys have decided not to pick up the fifth year option on Claiborne's rookie contract. Because he was taken number six overall, he would have been in line for an $11m payday next year. This would be a one year deal worth the average of the ten highest cornerback salaries. Even though he has not been in any trouble of note, this type of contract situation has been known to cause ill-feelings in locker rooms before (hold-outs, not showing up on time for camps, etc...).
All of this is to say that in an NFL environment that has been infiltrated by bad actors and arrests for domestic violence, drugs, weapons and even murder, we have seen teams screen draft picks with extra scrutiny. Free-agents have been scrutinized to make sure rosters are squeaky clean in order to limit the problem players as much as possible.
Conversely, the Dallas Cowboys have a potential combustible locker room - in fact, based on prior issues, this could be as combustible a locker room as there is in professional sports.