The Oakland Raiders of the East are at it again. And it's a damn shame—at least for those who support America's most polarizing team—because the Dallas Cowboys possess as much talent as anybody and have the right pieces in place to make a run, but they appear to be entering full self-destruct mode even earlier than usual this year.
The newest Dallas football controversy comes as a result of a poorly handled transition of power within the coaching staff. After months of speculation but nothing but awkward, uncomfortable silence from the team, owner Jerry Jones seemed to confirm Tuesday that head coach Jason Garrett would relinquish his play-calling duties to offensive assistant Bill Callahan.
But even then, Jones would only leave it up to us.
I'm just saying, I don't want to say. But the big deal is if you been looking at practice you can get a pretty good idea of how it's going there and you see Bill very involved in what we're doing out there.
Callahan claimed to be both "flattered" and "honored," per Watkins, but Garrett once again wouldn't confirm nor deny anything. Why is everyone beating around this bush? This is exactly how fairly innocuous situations become inflamed and infected. Inevitably, we were/are always going to wind up with the truth, but by skirting around it you make the contusion deeper than it has to be.
That's not to say that this was a good move in the first place. Garrett is the head coach, but he's an offensive expert. Cutting that duty out of his job description has clearly embarrassed him, which is to be expected, and the poor PR approach to said transition has only exacerbated the problem.
Garrett is left looking and feeling even more disenfranchised than before, and now it's fair to be concerned about the relationships that exist between both him and Callahan and him and Jones, because they're singing tunes from completely different genres right now.
This all comes six weeks after Dallas arguably flunked the NFL draft. Now, that's rash, which is why I soften it up with "arguably." The reality is that the 'Boys were very happy with what transpired April 25-27 in New York and it takes several years, not several days or weeks or even months, to draw basic, let alone major, conclusions about draft outcomes.
Regardless, the bad press that came from that "performance" at Radio City Music Hall wasn't good, and that only works to increase the pressure on a team that has wilted much more often than it has risen in fight-or-flight situations the last decade and a half.
That damn "at least you have your health" line doesn't apply here, either. Quarterback Tony Romo—who said he'd be playing less golf this year, presumably, in order to maintain his focus on football—hasn't been able to take any OTA snaps as he recovers from surgery to remove a cyst from his back.
Word came from Jones on Tuesday, via the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, that it's "probably unlikely" the veteran quarterback is able to practice at next week's mandatory minicamp.
The injury might not be serious, but it's enough to cause some discouragement, especially when combined with the fact that crucial but injury-prone running back DeMarco Murray has been slow to come back from a hamstring problem.
Romo's been at the center of two other borderline-controversial situations this offseason, although it's hard to blame him for accepting the cash Jones placed at his doorstep with that record-breaking but heavily disputed new contract, which was finalized in March.
With that taken care of, Jones stated, fairly unequivocally, that Romo would play a larger role in terms of game-planning—something Garrett completely shot down within days.
Is Jones just leaving his head coach out of the loop, or is somebody running from the truth? Regardless, it appears Garrett has had his legs cut out from under him on at least two occasions in one offseason, causing me to wonder if he's employed for any reason other than the fact the totalitarian owner can control him.
Will this tumultuous offseason negatively impact the Cowboys on the field in 2013?
Super Bowls are neither won nor lost in June, but it's hard to give a franchise the benefit of the doubt when we've seen this horror flick time and again. The same thing's happening two time zones over in Oakland, where dysfunction was defined for the last half-decade of the Al Davis era and now Davis' Tommy Boy son, Mark, has caused a new uproar by firing his PR director, reportedly over the way he was portrayed in a Sports Illustrated story.
In Oakland, it's a case of "the more they change, the more they stay the same." In Dallas—for better or worse—it's just the same. And if we're only applying that phrase to the current millenium, that's bad news.
This is a sport in which cohesion and chemistry count. The Cowboys have put some very good teams on the field in recent years, and that'll again be the case this season. But they've won only a single playoff game since the Clinton administration because the toxic management structure has poisoned the rest of the team.
It's the same story with a slightly different cast of supporting actors and one trouble-making villain at the top. It hasn't changed in two decades, so don't expect a sudden metamorphosis between now and September.
It could happen, but it likely won't. You'd be silly to believe otherwise.