Questionable and regrettable behavior by a Dallas Cowboy did not begin when Jerry Jones bought the team. This team had plenty of “characters” under Tom Landry, but the vast majority of us didn’t know a variety of reasons, namely the attention and media was nothing compared to what it is today.
Thomas “Hollywood” Henderson is perhaps the most notorious character in the Landry regime, and a man who has battled demons and off-the-field problems that included drug use and jail time. He played for the Cowboys from 1975 to ‘79, but was cut for drug use. He won the lottery - literally - in 2000 and has since turned his life in a positive direction.
If there is anybody pulling for Greg Hardy, and believes in a second chance, it is Thomas Henderson, 62, who now lives between Austin and South Florida.
I spoke with him on Tuesday and asked him what he thought of the Cowboys’ signing the controversial defensive end Greg Hardy. He was convicted of domestic assault but later had the charges dropped when the accuser would not cooperate with prosecutors, and reached a civil settlement with Hardy.
Henderson’s answer went cultural, but he is hoping for Hardy yet pragmatic about the situation.
“Well - this is going to surprise you, but Greg Hardy saw (domestic violence) in his life,” Henderson told me. “He saw his mom get her (butt) beat, or saw his father hit his mother. Maybe he saw his mother hit his father. Or maybe he saw his neighbor hit his wife. Maybe he saw his friends jump on a girlfriend - and this is not to besmirch the African-American community - and this is not an excuse for that behavior.
“It’s like Adrian Peterson with the Vikings (who last year had charges dropped of child abuse). My mother told me to get a switch and beat me with it. My mother whipped me with an extension cord. This is the (bleep) you have seen and lived. In some households, conflict resolution is a frying pan or a fist. It doesn’t make it right, but that’s what it is.
“I think (Hardy) made a mistake. I really hope he does not make that mistake again. He’s a great player. And I understand the political surroundings around this. I am glad I did not try to make a comeback to the NFL after all of my troubles. It would have been controversial. I know conservative people who have never made a mistake or done anything wrong with their life judge it.
“I don’t forgive men who hit women. I hit my wife because, what? I saw my father hit my mother. I have not hit anybody since. It’s a hard lesson and it is very hard to swallow.”
Mac Engel, 817-390-7760