Mar 262014

Cowboys Camp Football

Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones is suing defensive tackle Jay Ratliff. The Cowboys are seeking compensation, complaining that Ratliff exaggerated an injury, refusing to play for the team in 2013. When Ratliff was granted a release, his physician immediately cleared him to play. He signed with the Chicago Bears and played five games for them at the end of the season.

The New York Post reports:

ORLANDO, Fla. — The Dallas Cowboys have filed a complaint against Jay Ratliff and are seeking compensation from the defensive lineman.

Ratliff was sidelined last season while recovering from a sports hernia that required surgery. He was placed on the physically unable to perform list, but when he told the Cowboys he was not physically able to play, they released him in October.

A week later, Ratliff’s surgeon medically cleared him to play and he signed with the Bears, playing five games for them.

The collective bargaining agreement does not cover such disputes, so the Cowboys have brought their complaint to the NFL’s management council and the players’ union.

“It just stems from him not playing for us under the pretense of injury, and then days later playing for someone else,” Cowboys owner Jerry Jones said at the NFL owners meetings. “We just have a complaint and we’ll see where we take it from there.”

The Cowboys want to recover a portion of the signing bonus Ratliff got when he agreed to a five-year, $40 million contract in 2011, a person familiar with the complaint told the Associated Press. The team also wants to recover some of Ratliff’s salary for 2013, the person added, speaking on condition of anonymity because the specifics of the complaint have not been made public.

Ratliff’s final couple of seasons with the team were acrimonious to say the least. You may recall the widely reported locker room confrontation between a miffed Jones and an animated Ratliff. It seems Jones may have been convinced even then that Ratliff was exaggerating injury and dogging it when the team needed him most:

Several reports coming out of the Dallas camp indicate that after the Cowboys’ win over Philadelphia last Sunday, team owner Jerry Jones and nose tackle Jay Ratliff got into a verbal confrontation so severe that team personnel had to separate the two. Jones, who has a habit of talking to players in the locker room after games to offer encouragement or prodding, apparently walked up to the oft-injured Ratliff and said just three words: “We need you.”

Ratliff then got to his feet and an argument ensued. Credit Jones; the 70-year-old didn’t back down from the 6-foot-4, 300-pound lineman (though the fact that Jones signs Ratliff’s checks might have had something to do with it). Team officials had to separate what one individual called a “volcanic” confrontation.

The 2012 incident happened when the Cowboys were dealing with Josh Brent drunk driving incident, in which Brent’s best friend and Cowboys’ teammate Jerry Brown was killed. Brent was Ratliff’s backup.

Things never got right between Ratliff and the Cowboys after that.

I supposed it is possible that Ratliff’s injury coincidentally healed a week after the team released him. Possible, since almost anything is possible. But it is not likely. What is more likely is that Ratliff forced the team’s hand, got the release he wanted, and decided he was ready to ball.

In which case, Jones is right and Ratliff should return the money he failed to earn in good faith under his contract.

Do you agree?