Cowboys owner Jerry Jones isn’t saying anything about Jay Ratliff. A magazine Jones owns is saying plenty.
At a time when Jones has uncharacteristically zipped it regarding Ratliff by calling it a “legal matter,” the latest issue of Dallas Cowboys Star Magazine jumps cannonball-style into the situation.
“This absolutely should be a legal matter,” Jeff Sullivan of Dallas Cowboys Star Magazine writes in an article posted on the team’s official website. “There is no way Ratliff should be paid for what has taken place in 2013, which was slated to be the first season under his five-year, $40 million extension signed back in 2011. Of course, Ratliff was given the signing bonus two years ago, so he was paid approximately $18 million without having played a single snap under the new deal.”
Given the sensitivity of the issue, it’s hard to imagine that Sullivan wrote those words (and the rest of a column that tees off on Ratliff) without someone higher in the pecking order providing at least a nod of approval. Regardless of whether the issue landed on the desk of anyone named “Jones,” the simple reality is that the attack on Ratliff is coming not from some independent publication, but from a media outlet owned and operated ultimately by Jerry.
“Jay Ratliff, at some point and time, decided he was no longer playing for the Dallas Cowboys,” Sullivan writes. “This could’ve been last December, following a heated exchange with owner/GM Jerry Jones in the locker room after a game, although there have been rumors that wasn’t the last verbal sparring session the two had, with the most recent coming just weeks before the Cowboys released Ratliff on Oct. 16.”
To clarify, a magazine owned by Jones now reports that there are rumors Jones and Ratliff had another verbal altercation “just weeks before” Ratliff was cut.
Sullivan also calls the situation a “soap opera,” and he writes that it is “likely far from concluded.” He also reviews some of the basic facts of the case, pointing out that Ratliff was arrested for DUI in January (a month after Cowboys defensive lineman Josh Brent allegedly crashed a car while driving drunk, claiming the life of Cowboys linebacker Jerry Brown), that Ratliff supposedly pulled a hamstring in his 2013 training-camp conditioning test, that Ratliff was seen “running on the field” the next day, that Ratliff was considered to be day-to-day with the hamstring injury, that Ratliff when he was released still wasn’t healthy, and that a week later Ratliff was medically cleared to play for someone else.
“[H]e shouldn’t be paid a nickel, never mind millions of dollars for not wanting to play for the team with which he was under contract and then constructing a path out of town amidst a bunch of lies,” Sullivan writes. “That is unacceptable. Ratliff is gone and the Cowboys are better off. As for the money and the cap space in 2014, we just have to allow the legal process to play out.”
Again, these words appeared not in a Dallas newspaper or on a football-related website. They were published by a magazine owned and operated by the Dallas Cowboys, who are owned and operated by Jerry Jones. Right, wrong, or otherwise, the article leads to the inescapable conclusion that the Cowboys will eventually be suing Ratliff, presumably through the NFL-NFLPA grievance process.