Reporting Mike Fisher
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IRVING (CBSDFW.COM) – The strange case of Jay Ratliff’s departure from the Dallas Cowboys is about to require the intervention of litigators, because it is so contentious.
It’s also about to require the intervention of fumigators…because it stinks.
Ratliff, the former four-time Cowboys Pro Bowler released last week after 11 months of tiresome inactivity, has found a miracle cure in the form of an exit from Valley Ranch.
Last week, agent Mark Slough reacted to the team’s action by saying, “If he could’ve played this year (for the Cowboys), he would’ve been on the field.” But on Wednesday, he sent emails to each of the other 31 NFL teams stating the defensive tackle has been medically cleared to return to all football activities.
What happened here? Miscommunication? Misdiagnosis? Misappropriation of funds, as Ratliff’s release sticks Dallas with a $6.928 million cap hit next season while the player walks away with $10 million in bonus money for doing nothing?
DFW sports fans experienced a similar oddity when Lamar Odom oozed through town as a member of the Dallas Mavericks. He was, in no uncertain terms, a malingerer.
Jay Ratliff now stands accused of Odomizing the Cowboys’ locker room.
The Cowboys’ side suggests Ratliff’s injury was a sports hernia, which normally takes eight weeks from which to recover. Ratliff’s side insists the injury, repaired last December, featured tendons and muscle having been ripped from his pelvis, and that it would take a year to recover from the procedure.
The Cowboys’ side whispers that Ratliff failed to show up to team doctor visits. Ratliff’s side means to indicate that the level of distrust caused the player to seek his medical guidance elsewhere.
The Cowboys’ side wonders if there is a cash-based or (much more importantly) a cap-based reason for a court and/or the NFL to grant the team relief on the basis of Ratliff’s fraudulence. Ratliff’s side wonders if the team is guilty of malpractice, slander and general nastiness.
We reported late last year on a locker-room confrontation between the 300-pound Ratliff and the 70-year-old owner of the Cowboys, Jerry Jones. Jones was trying to pep-talk Ratliff back onto the active roster. Ratliff took offense and physically challenged the boss, even making an unsavory comment about Jones’ age.
All involved swear that isn’t a factor in where the crumbled relationship is today. And that the $40 million extension given Ratliff isn’t a factor. And that the DWI earned by Ratliff – coming in the wake of the DWI death of a teammate – isn’t a factor. But agent Slough is also a lawyer. And Jones knows his way around a courtroom as well – and as verbose as he can so often be, also knows how to talk around the law when necessary.
“This has become a legal matter,” Jones said, “and so you can understand the need to not comment on specifics at this time.”
Yessir. Because it’s contentious, it’s time to hand this case over to the suits.
And because it stinks, the suits are going to need to be of the hazmat variety.
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