Never thought I’d say this, but the Cowboys – and our world – should be more like the NFL Network.
Here’s how NFL Network operates: It hires Hall-of-Famer Warren Sapp as an analyst. Pays him a salary of $540,000 per year to yack on TV about his love, football. Flies him First Class. 5-star hotels. Limos to all the Super Bowl parties. Total coddling. The works.
But, despite his on-camera presence and success and pampering, when Sapp was arrested in Phoenix early Monday morning following Super Bowl 49 for soliciting a prostitute and assault, he was fired.
In fact, news about Sapp’s arrest hit social media Monday morning. By 6 p.m. network spokesman Alex Riethmiller said bluntly, “Warren Sapp’s contract has been terminated and he no longer works for NFL Network.”
No due process. No, “it’s only a couple of misdemeanors.” No second chance. No “it was all a big misunderstanding.” No excuses about some addiction or disorder. Just one strike, and you’re out. Perfect. The way it should be.
Prediction: No other NFL Network personalitiy – and that includes Michael Irvin and Deion Sanders – will run afoul of the law in 2015.
Prediction: At least a couple of Cowboys will.
Because while the network has poured its line in the sand with concrete, the Cowboys – and our society – continue to construct rules and values and consequences with all the straightforwardness and rigidity of an Etch-A-Sketch. Need to alter the rules, customize the punishment and cater to some more than others? No worries. Just shake it and start over.
Presto, a Band-Aid on a broken leg.
In October, Cowboys’ running back Joseph Randle made the conscious decision to steal underwear and cologne from a mall in Frisco. He was arrested and … end of story. The Cowboys say they punished him internally – likely with a fine – but he otherwise missed no practices or games. His crime quickly morphed into a pillowy punch-line, and he was smothered with hugs by teammates and fans.
Randle got a second chance. Because … It was just undies and smelly good. He’s only 23. Everyone needs forgiveness. Right? He won't spend time talking about his mistake, but rather concentrating on moving forward. Almost like it never happened?
Over the weekend in Wichita, Randle – armed with a do-over and obviously fearless about the consequences of his actions – made another bad conscious decision. This time, according to police, he possessed marijuana in a hotel room, and was subsequently arrested.
At the NFL Network, he’d be gone by sundown. At Valley Ranch, he’ll likely get a third chance.
We’re only four days into the NFL off-season and we’ve already had four arrests (Sapp, Randle, D’Qwell Jackson, Letroy Guion), a suspension (Josh Gordon) and a visit to rehab (Johnny Manziel). The culprit for all the commotion: Tolerance.
Too much forgiveness and leeway; too little discipline and accountability. There's a reason that 68 percent of America's prison population is made up of repeat offenders, and it's certainly not because the country is too harsh on crime.
In our world, suddenly saying “My bad” or releasing an “I’m sorry” statement buys you an “Oops.” We’ve raised a video-game generation, where a mistake or screw-up can be shrugged off and erased by simply pressing the “reset” button and starting over. But, admit it, the reason Randle made another mistake is because he wasn’t really punished for his first one.
Taking away some of a man's money is one thing. Taking away most of a man's ability to make more money is another.
I don’t expect the Cowboys to be as spectacularly efficient with Randle as the NFL Network was with Sapp. In fact, I expect the two-time loser to be running the ball next summer at training camp, trying to avoid tackles from Josh Brent.
A native Texan who was born in Duncanville and graduated from UT-Arlington, Richie Whitt has been a mainstay in the Metroplex media since 1986. He’s held prominent roles on all media platforms including newspaper (Fort Worth Star-Telegram, Dallas Observer), radio (105.3 The Fan) and TV (co-host on TXA 21 and numerous guest appearances, including NBC 5). He currently lives in McKinney with his wife, Sybil, and two very spoiled dogs.