Mac Engel

Cowboys' Hardy already a distraction, the one thing Garrett loathes

Before Greg Hardy pulled his best Marshawn Lynch impersonation with the media, he chatted with Dallas Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo at his locker.

This conversation was initiated by Romo. It appeared to be pleasant with a lot of agreeing, and considerable nodding. Romo did not receive the pithy “No comment — next question” answers Hardy delivered to the media about 15 minutes later.

Hardy will nod and play along with the Pro Bowl quarterback, but two games into his on-the-field career with the Cowboys, Hardy has quickly proved to be the one thing this head coach hates more than fun — he is a distraction.

Hardy throwing a temper tantrum at his teammates and the special teams after former Cowboy Dwayne Harris returned a kickoff for a game-winning score in a 27-20 loss to the New York Giants was equal parts laughable and predictable.

The Cowboys have no one to blame but themselves for this distraction, either. They have the pass rusher they need, and the headache they hate.

Hardy doesn’t say things the way this pro’s-pro coach wants a message delivered, and now his sideline behavior leaves much to be desired.

“He’s one of the real leaders on this team,” Cowboys owner Jerry Jones said after the game.

No, he’s not. What Hardy is is one of the most talented players on this team. There is a big difference.

The guys who are the real leaders are the ones with skins on the wall in this league for this team — Romo, Dez Bryant, Jason Witten, Tyron Smith, Travis Frederick, Barry Church, Sean Lee and a few others.

Hardy has played two games for the Cowboys, and they have already had to deal with plenty of his junk. Blame the media if you must, but the media is part of the billion-dollar 24/7 world of the NFL, and guys like this affect teams.

Hardy’s boorish sideline behavior brought back the finer days when Terrell Owens was running his delusional mouth to anyone within ear shot.

When wide receiver Dez Bryant, no stranger to overly emotional sideline behavior, has to play the part of adult to try to control Hardy’s issues, it says something.

We can guess the subject matter of Romo’s chat with Hardy, and it was a noble effort. He might be the only guy big enough on this team to be able to talk to Hardy. Romo is likely wasting his breath.

Guys other than the player himself have to answer for his behavior, and that is not fair or right. It’s also something no one on this team did in 2014.

Cowboys special teams coach Rich Bisaccia denied Hardy pushed the coach after the touchdown when they were huddling.

“Well, no, he wanted to get in there and kind of get after some of the guys a little bit, maybe get them fired up,” Bisaccia said. “It was just not the right time. It’s really not an issue.”

It’s never an “issue,” but these things are always annoying, and eventually they become an issue.

I am dumb enough to believe Hardy was just trying to fire up his teammates. I also believe he failed miserably and created more of a scene than anyone in the organization will admit.

“It was extremely positive,” linebacker Sean Lee said of Hardy’s outburst. “Guys that are animated and emotional on the sidelines, it’s something we feed off of.”

If that is the case, why don’t more guys do this throughout the league? Why don’t we see similar tantrums in New England, Green Bay or Pittsburgh?

Rather than defend such behaviors just call it what it is and ask him to just grow the hell up and be a pro. But no one will and he will do no such thing, because he doesn’t have to.

This is the same sort of junk this team had to deal with when Owens was spewing his paranoid nonsense in 2007 and ’08. Who were the people behind T.O.’s release? Offensive coordinator Garrett, Romo, among many others.

There was a reason the Carolina Panthers let Hardy walk after his domestic violence charge. There was something about him that they did not like enough to dump one of the most dominant pass rushers, in his prime, for nothing.

These types of things might not determine the winner from a loser, but they are just one more thing to deal with for a team riding a four-game losing streak that does not need this garbage.

Some teams are good enough to contain these types of monster personalities — start with the dynasty-era Cowboys as a point of reference. That team could deal with distractions. Exactly what have we seen from this franchise this entire decade that says they are good enough to manage a personality like this guy?

Exactly what have we seen from this head coach that says he is OK with this type of stuff?

Dez has a little of this in him, but it felt harmless. Watching Hardy pop on Sunday looks like the kid on the playground who gets mad at his teammates for blowing it while blissfully unaware of his own flaws.

If Hardy wants to play Marshawn Lynch with the media, Godspeed.

If Hardy wants to play T.O. on the sidelines, there are going to be problems.

Listen to Mac Engel every Tuesday and Thursday on Shan & RJ from 5:30-10 a.m. on 105.3 The Fan.

Mac Engel: 817-390-7696,, @macengelprof

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