January 22, 2013

Cowboys' Ratliff arrested on suspicion of DWI after wreck

The arrest comes six weeks after Cowboys practice team player Jerry Brown Jr. was killed in a one-car crash in which teammate Josh Brent has been charged with intoxication manslaughter.

Dallas Cowboys nose tackle Jay Ratliff was arrested early Tuesday on suspicion of driving while intoxicated after a collision involving a tractor-trailer rig on Texas 114 in Grapevine, police said.

Ratliff was released later Tuesday on $500 bail on the misdemeanor offense, said Officer Sam Shemwell, a police spokesman.

Neither Ratliff nor the driver of the big rig was hurt, Shemwell said.

The wreck happened about 12:30 a.m. in westbound lanes in the 2800 block of Texas 114, Shemwell said.

Ratliff was driving a black 2011 Ford F-150 pickup. “Mr. Ratliff’s vehicle changed lanes in front of the Peterbilt,” Shemwell said.

“Whether his intent was to pass or change lanes, I don’t know,” he said.

The responding officer gave Ratliff a field sobriety test “and formed the opinion he was intoxicated,” Shemwell said.

“The report indicated he had been in Arlington that evening,” Shemwell said, but the officer noted no location.

Ratliff refused an on-scene breath test, so officers subsequently obtained a warrant to draw a blood sample, Shemwell said.

Police won’t know Ratliff’s blood alcohol level until the test is returned.

Ratliff's arrest comes about six weeks after he and his teammates attended the funeral for teammate Jerry Brown, who was killed after a car driven by teammate Josh Brent crashed in Irving. Police said Brent was driving drunk, and he has been indicted on a charge of intoxication manslaughter.

The Cowboys coaching staff and owner Jerry Jones were in Mobile, Ala., on Tuesday, evaluating college talent.

Jones was talking to reporters about Ratliff on Tuesday before news of the wreck.

Jones was asked about his confrontation with Ratliff in the locker room after a home game against the Philadelphia Eagles, when Jones said to the player that the team needed him healthy.

“As far as I’m concerned, he is outstanding,” Jones said Tuesday at the Senior Bowl. “He has given everything he’s ever had to the Dallas Cowboys. With me, any of that emotion that was involved between us is only reflected back on many times that we’ve had, in our own way, some emotional time with each other. And it in no way before was ever contentious.

“So when you’ve got the kind of background we’ve got together, then if you have a moment that you might not have been on the same page, that’s like father-son, that’s like family, that’s like all that. That’s forgotten when you know each other has your best interests at heart. We both know that.”

If Jones knew about Ratliff’s arrest at the time he was speaking to reporters, he did not indicate it.

Ratliff had season-ending surgery in early December after already missing seven games during the season.

Time will tell if the past events, including Tuesday's development, will affect the team's decision whether to release him or bring him back for a ninth season in 2013.

Ratliff had 25 tackles, one tackle for loss and 10 quarterback pressures in six games this season with no sacks, marking a decline his sack numbers for a fifth straight season. Ratliff signed a five-year extension for $40 million in 2011, with $17.5 million guaranteed. He is set to count $7 million against the cap next season.

Clarence E. Hill Jr. and Carlos Mendez contributed to this report

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