OXNARD, Calif. — Credit my friend Scott Russell for the following: “I think I found the problem with the Cowboys’ defense. They are trying to use ecstasy as a performance-enhancing drug.”Stupid’s tentacles are so far reaching in this Cowboys training camp it could spawn a TV show that would qualify more as science fiction than reality TV.Tuesday was the Orlando Scandrick episode, as word spread the defensive back was suspended four games by the NFL for violating its substance abuse policy. Stupid No 1: Scandrick admitted to taking a drug in Mexico, through his own volition, which contained elements that are banned by the NFL.“In no way, shape or form was this a way of trying to gain a competitive edge,” he said. “I don’t take anything to enhance my performance.”The Cowboys’ results over the past several seasons suggest that no one on this team has taken performance-enhancing drugs. If they are, they need to fire their dealer.“I simply made a mistake. It was a dumb mistake,” Scandrick said. “It had nothing to do with football. I should never have done it.”With all due respect to our good friends south of the border, why are you taking any substances in Mexico these days?Scandrick nearly broke his tongue apologizing to just about anyone wearing a blue star. It was hard not to feel a little bad for the guy because he realizes the scope of his screwup and how bad this bad defense needs him.Scandrick can come off as angry, but he is a good guy who cares and wants to win. He was enjoying arguably the best camp of any defensive player for the Cowboys, and he was going to start.The fact the Cowboys were selling Scandrick, who has five career interceptions in six NFL seasons, was telling. He is a nice, reliable pro. He is not a star.But a defense that was already bereft of reliable pros, forget stars, has one fewer for the first month.He will sit four games. He knows he messed up. It’s done. Next time, Orlando, settle for a Shiner.Stupid No. 2: Scandrick was suspended four games for his act while Ravens running back Ray Rice gets two games for hitting his wife, which lends itself to the question — what the bleeping-bleeping bleep?Scandrick’s suspension is just another example in NFL Police Commissioner Roger Goodell’s Handbook to Random Rulings.I asked Scandrick if he felt his suspension, in light of the decision on Rice, was excessive.“The rules are the rules. It’s written in the CBA. It’s black and white,” he said. “As for the conduct policy, it’s a little bit up to the commissioner.”The good news is that defensive tackle Josh Brent, who is awaiting Goodell’s ruling on whether he will lose games for vehicular manslaughter, should be suspended no more than three plays.Goodell’s Totem Pole of Punishment goes in descending order: drugs, wife beater, death.Someone has got to reach Goodell and tell him these blind-dart-throw suspensions neuter the sincerity of his words and intent.Stupid No. 3: Scandrick’s suspension was no surprise to the team, but they acted otherwise.“We have known about it for months, months and months,” owner Jerry Jones said Tuesday. “It’s no surprise. Everybody messes up, but it’s not just you.”So the Cowboys were expecting this announcement, but had Scandrick taking reps with the first-team defense, and potentially time away from guys who needed the work more than he did.Stupid No. 4: The philosophy that the Cowboys’ defense from a year ago would somehow be better because they could not be any worse is already being exposed.Linebacker Sean Lee is out for the year. Defensive tackle Henry Melton is week-to-week with a groin injury. Scandrick is out. Rookie defensive end Demarcus Lawrence is out with a foot injury.Coach Jason Garrett is still selling the “next man up,” and the team is not even at Game 2 of the preseason. Imagine the Walking Dead when it’s Game 2 of the regular season. Jerry may have to cover the slot against the Saints in Week 4.There is a chance that Brent will return sooner rather than later and that injured defensive end Anthony Spencer may be ready to play Week 1 against the 49ers. Maybe the 49ers will be looking ahead to the Super Bowl when they play the Cowboys. That’s all I got.The Cowboys’ defense figured to be average if every one of this team’s fingers-crossed hopes and gambles hit. Injuries happen, but what stings so much about Scandrick is that it was avoidable.Scandrick’s suspension was not welcome, but in a Cowboys training camp that has featured reports from TMZ, and other assorted stupid elements, it was consistent with the rest of this unbelievable reality TV show.
Mac Engel, 817-390-7697 Twitter: @macengelprof