Former TCU and NFL great LaDainian Tomlinson doesn’t understand why the Dallas Cowboys are trying to paint controversial defensive end Greg Hardy as a leader.
Cowboys owner Jerry Jones has been ridiculed recently for his statements about Hardy being a leader on the football field, someone who works hard and has a relentless motor in practice and during games.
But there is more to leadership than that, Tomlinson said on Wednesday night before being honored by the Bobby Bragan Youth Foundation.
“I don’t understand why they feel like he has to be a leader,” said Tomlinson, regarded as a team leader in his college days at TCU and throughout his stellar 11-year professional career.
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“Here’s thing about leadership, you have to know your teammates – all of them. You can’t treat everybody the same as a leader on a team. You can’t challenge everyone in the same way. You’ve got to know a guy you can challenge and get in his face, and a guy you’ve got to say, ‘Hey, man, let me just talk to you. This is my opinion.’
“You have to know that. And anytime you cross the line in terms of pushing a coach in that situation, that’s really crossing the line. So, to me, like I said, they’re trying to force it on him.”
Tomlinson is referring to Hardy’s sideline antics late last month that included Hardy pushing and shoving teammates and coaches, including special teams coordinator Rich Bisaccia.
Cowboys coach Jason Garrett had to meet with Hardy after that, something that has become a common occurrence. Garrett also met with Hardy after he made disparaging comments about Tom Brady’s wife, Gisele Bundchen, in his first news conference with local reporters.
Hardy and Garrett have also met regarding a couple social media posts, including one making light of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks during the draft and another earlier this week in which Hardy changed his Twitter bio to claim innocence in a May 2014 domestic violence incident.
So that begs the question – does Hardy get it?
“That’s a good question,” said Tomlinson, who is now an NFL Network analyst. “What we’ve heard so far from a lot of people in the media and close to the Cowboys organization from the media, they enable him a lot. I think some of that is true.
“I don’t think you can really ‘get it’ until you’re put in tough situations and you really have to earn it. Right now, I think he knows he’s a heck of a player. He knows they need him on the football field. At the end of the day, that always rules.”
Hardy has become an impact player for the Cowboys’ pass rush. He has four sacks in his first four games.
As Tomlinson said, that’s why Hardy is employed and the Cowboys have given him an opportunity to extend his playing career when most teams wouldn’t.
“I never speak on if a team should sign a player or not,” Tomlinson said. “At the end of the day, I would want somebody to give me a second chance and a third chance, you know what I mean?
“I won’t speak on that, but what I will say is he has a second chance and he can’t screw up again. That’s just the way it is.”