Mac Engel

Cowboys must allow Jason Garrett to cut Rolando McClain

Cowboys linebacker Rolando McClain has been suspended for the first 10 games of 2016 for violating the NFL’s substance abuse policy.
Cowboys linebacker Rolando McClain has been suspended for the first 10 games of 2016 for violating the NFL’s substance abuse policy. AP

Like so many before him, Jason Garrett was gelded long ago by his boss, and if the coach wants to regain any footing with his players he needs to cut linebacker Rolando McClain yesterday.

Actually, cutting Ro’ may not make a difference in a locker room that knows it’s not Coach Process who has the final say on who is and isn’t in that room.

If the Dallas Cowboys keep the recently re-suspended McClain on their roster, it will further erode whatever confidence anybody should have in Jason Garrett’s authority ... if he has any remaining.

Jerry Jones needs to approve a release of McClain, not for his own sake but for what remains of Garrett’s tattered reputation.

This week has been another full assault on the stature of the local football coach.

Last season, this guy was preaching “the right way” while he coached a man who was accused of beating the hell out of an ex-girlfriend, and the year before a player who this week was convicted of rape.

And this does not mention the failed drug tests of defensive players McClain, Randy Gregory and DeMarcus Lawrence.

Some of this is because Garrett works for an owner who, as one Cowboys Hall of Famer told me, “Jerry don’t give a [blank]. He’ll take anybody.”

Jerry has never pretended to be anything other than what he is. If Attila the Hun could have played left defensive end, Jerry would have signed him for a look.

Jerry’s head coach, however, continually spews pretty sounding rhetoric about “character” and “the right way” and “getting better every day.”

If he can’t do it, then he needs to stop.

And whatever “program” the Cowboys have in place — if it even exists — to aid their boneheaded players needs to be disbanded, too.

All coaches are full of (blank) to a degree, and all of us are stuffed with contradictions, but what Garrett has said versus what he has done creates the impression of a tone-deaf hypocrite.

It’s hard to utter phrases about character and then take on Greg Hardy. It’s hard to preach accountability and professionalism and then do nothing when Hardy gets into a physical altercation with one of his assistant coaches during a game last fall.

Why stress the importance of practice and allow McClain to remain on the team? Nobody on this team hates practice more than Ro’.

McClain was a necessary gamble when the Cowboys signed him two years ago, and when he has played he is good. He likes playing the games, and everything else bores him. He hates practice, so he ducks it.

This guy found a reason to miss OTAs, which infuriated the coaches. Jerry explained it as a man who simply wanted to spend time with his family in Alabama.

Because apparently McClain is the only Cowboys player to have a child who lives in a different state.

Now he is suspended the first 10 games of this season because he violated the NFL’s substance-abuse policy.

“I apologize to my family, the Cowboys organization, my teammates and Cowboys fans for my mistake,” McClain said in a statement. “I will not break the rules of my profession in the future, and I regret my error.”

This statement had a one-year shelf life; it was from McClain last year when he was suspended by the NFL for the first four weeks because he violated the league’s substance-abuse policy.

He joins defensive front-seven teammates DeMarcus Lawrence and Randy Gregory, who will each miss the first four weeks of the NFL season because they also failed drug tests.

Every team makes exceptions, and the Cowboys could justify dealing with McClain because of his talent. To do so now demonstrates the lack of players on the Dallas defense, and the shallowness of Garrett’s power.

But given how the team handled C.J. Spillman, we should not be surprised when McClain trots out in November for his first game of the season. If you thought McClain was out of shape last season ...

Spillman was on the team in ’14 after he was accused of rape, and it further enhances an image of a franchise that says one thing and does whatever else because there are zero consequences.

The Cowboys knew of these charges in September 2014, and very likely of the accusation from a different woman when he was with the San Francisco 49ers. But he remained with the team throughout that season.

Pro football is a dirty business full of deplorable double standards, but not for C.J. Spillman. You cut C.J. Spillman the moment you find out that these charges have merit.

Spillman is a bottom-of-the-roster player whose replacement is found with one phone call.

The Cowboys didn’t do anything then, and they don’t appear to be in a rush to find a replacement for McClain.

We are not surprised by any of this because Jerry is comfortable with all of it. Garrett’s words say he’s not, but his actions scream otherwise.

Jerry is never going to change, but for the sake of his head coach he should allow McClain to be cut.

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

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