Joe Randle, Dallas’ starting running back all year, on Wednesday received the report from the NFL regarding his incident last February involving a domestic-violence charge and alleged possession of marijuana possession, sources tell CHQ. He reacted emotionally by leaving the team's Valley Ranch headquarters.
Based on the NFL’s personal-conduct policy, that can mean a suspension from the league … making this last few days a when-it-rains-it-pours situation for Randle.
Last February, Wichita police investigated claims from the mother of Randle's child. She said Randle, a Wichita native, punched his fist through a car window and threatened her with a gun.
Those charges were dropped. But all along, the involved parties knew the NFL could still act on them, and it is now doing so. So while the Cowboys don’t plan on their own punishment, they are certainly aware of all this — which is why we reported in March that McFadden might have to someday supplant Randle due to Joe’s behavioral issues and why in September we reported that Christine Michael was acquired in trade from Seattle for the same reasons.
Randle has always teetered somewhere between “knucklehead’’ and “troublemaker.’’ Even before the Wichita incident, he was arrested for shoplifting underwear and a tester bottle of cologne from a Frisco mall.
As we've chroncled in this space, the Cowboys have been trying to prepare for the possibility of NFL punishment for Randle, or for other behavioral problems. To wit:
Does he remain a Cowboys candidate for 2015? Sure, along with the outside shot at DeMarco, the dream of Adrian Peterson, the collection of Mark Ingram types, the collection of Ryan Williams types and the option of using a second- or third-round pick on a DeMarco heir. But once upon a time, Randle was an insurance policy. If you view him as talented but unreliable? Now you have to buy insurance to insure the insurance.
Why he's in a hotel room at 3 a.m. in his hometown with the mother of his baby, and the baby, and "three people who didn't want to leave'' aren't necessarily legal questions. But they are judgment questions, and Dallas has been down this road with Randle before, as he was arrested in October, 2014 for shoplifting underwear and cologne from a Frisco mall. You will also recall that police video of his jailhouse appearance saw him treating a female officer disparagingly and speaking ill of teammates Dez Bryant and Josh Brent, a level of foolishness that got him in trouble with a Jason Witten-led locker room.
"I'm just trying to take full responsibility and really just move on from it," Randle said in October of the shoplifting incident. "It's the biggest mistake I've ever made in my life. ... I've never been in any kind of trouble in my whole life."
But now he's apparently made another "biggest mistake.'' And he's in trouble again ...
On March 14, regarding Darren McFadden's signing:
It looks like I’ll end up eating crow, but I’m sticking to my belief that the club only signed Darren McFadden as “Joseph Randle” insurance. When McFadden signed, Randle was facing a domestic violence investigation following an incident at a hotel in Wichita Falls, KS where he was cited for marijuana possession. That investigation was closed last week with no charges against the Cowboys back-up. If Dallas signed McFadden as insurance against Randle missing significant time (or being cut)- then a sigh of relief could have Dallas once again looking at Randle as their lead back.
MICHAEL ADDS RB DEPTH ... AND: The Cowboys have traded a conditional pick to the Seahawks for running back Christine Michael. This marks a change in the club’s thinking on the former Texas A&M star … and yes, CHQ believes we’ve gotten to the bottom of the thinking.
Dallas’s lead back in its RBBC plan remains Joe Randle. Maybe that won’t change at all; as Fish has noted, he’s scheduled to take the first snaps with the first team at Dallas’ first regular-season practice of the year on Tuesday as preparation for the opener against the Giants begins.
But that Frisco shoplifting thing … and that Wichita windshield thing … and then the excused absence due to a legal matter from this week’s kickoff luncheon …
We smell smoke. We sense fire.
On Sept. 7 ...
On Sept. 12, as the Cowboys readied to play the Giants, we wrote:
Dallas currently has four running backs on the roster in Randle, Darren McFadden, Lance Dunbar and Christine Michael, who was acquired via trade with Seattle for a seventh-round pick in 2016 (in part as insurance against Randle’s reputation as a behavioral knucklehead).
On top of all this, Randle is obviously frustrated over being injured at the beginning of Sunday’s loss at New York. His replacement Darren McFadden rushed for 152 yards and now McFadden is the official starter — and would be even if Joe wasn’t saddled with his strained oblique or with what we understand is a “family issue’’ at home. (Later revealed to be his call to Irving police, who did a well-being check on his girlfriend at their home. Police found nothing wrong there.)
What does coach Jason Garrett have to say about the situation? His Thursday’s Q-and-A is here:
WHAT'S RANDLE'S STATUS? -- Joe practiced for a little bit yesterday because of the oblique strain. We just wanted him to get out there and work a little bit with the rehab guys on the side just to see how he felt, then after that he had to leave the building because he had to take care of a personal issue.
HE WAS EXCUSED TO LEAVE? -- Yes.
WAS HE HERE TODAY? -- He was here briefly this morning.
DID YOU MEET WITH HIM? -- I did not meet with him today.
WHAT IS HIS STATUS FOR SUNDAY? -- His status is he has the oblique strain and he really wasn’t able to practice yesterday. He will not practice today. So he’s dealing with that and he’s dealing with this personal issue.
WILL HE BE BACK TODAY? -- Maybe later this afternoon.
IS IT RELATED TO DISCIPLINE FOR THE LEAGUE? -- Don’t want to get into any of that.
IS HE MEETING WITH NFL PEOPLE TODAY? -- I don’t believe so.
HAS HE MET WITH THEM THIS PAST WEEK? -- I know he has met with them in the past.
HOW WILL HIS ABSENCE IMPACT YOU SUNDAY? -- I don’t think it changes it that much, to be honest with you. Obviously Darren did an excellent job in the game against the Giants so he’s going to start the game for us. But C-Mike is a guy that we’ve tried to get some opportunities to the past few weeks. We feel good about Rodney as well. Each of those guys worked yesterday in practice and we anticipate those guys being up for the game.
DID YOU KNOW ABOUT THESE ISSUES WITH RANDLE? -- Yeah, I don’t want to make any comments on that.
IS RANDLE STILL A VIABLE OPTION FOR SUNDAY? -- Don’t really want to get into that situation very much. The biggest issue with Joe is take care of the injury, get himself healthy and hopefully work though some of these personal issues.
ARE YOU FRUSTRATED NOT HAVING THE GUY YOU COUNTED ON? -- Yeah, we’re not real concerned about that. We want to make sure he takes care of that personal situation and gets it behind him and we’re focused on our football team. Obviously ran the ball very well in the game the other day with Darren and it provides opportunity for other guys. One of the things we believe in is having the next guy up and available and ready and our players understand that. That’s the culture that we live in, the preparation they have to take full advantage of their opportunity is critical and guys will certainly do that.
SO HE WAS EXCUSED FROM TREATMENT YESTERDAY? -- Yes.
IS HIS DEPARTURE RELATED TO HIS DEMOTION? -- Again, addressing a personal issue.
To close, CHQ's final thoughts for now: Ironically, Joe Randle vowed just days ago to not be a "cancer'' in the locker room, insisting that he'd gained perspective on football and life. That can still be a goal here. But it's clearly not been achieved.