In A Snap: What Cowboys Lucky Whitehead Did Wrong To Get Sent Home

JERSEY CITY, NJ - In A Snap: What Cowboys Lucky Whitehead Did Wrong To Get Sent Home

There is nothing inherently or automatically "wrong'' with what Lucky Whitehead did at 10 p.m. or at 2 a.m. or at 3 a.m. on the eve of the Dallas Cowboys' trip to New York for this 11-1 team's biggest game of the season. There is nothing inherently wrong with a steak dinner with a few teammates or with a couple of drinks with friends or with an Uber ride with a female acquaintance or, even, with advertising all these events on social media.

 Ray Carlin-USA TODAY Sports

What is wrong with what Whitehead did on Friday night is how it impacted Saturday morning.

Sources tell me that Lucky followed up his partying non-curfew night out with a failure to appear at The Star in Frisco for a series of scheduled Saturday morning meetings that started with the usual special-teams session in the 7 o'clock hour and continued throughout the morning with the team worriedly searching for the absent receiver/return specialist, at one point enlisting law-enforcement officials to search for the player one source told me deserved to be labeled as "AWOL.''

"We were worried about him,'' a source told me shortly after Whitehead finally showed up to the facility, about three hours later than suspected, and was almost immediately sent home along with a decision from coach Jason Garrett that Whitehead would not travel here to New York and would not play in the critical Cowboys-at-Giants game on Sunday night.

Yes, sources tell me the Cowboys literally called the local police department to do a "welfare check'' on their player. ... an action that took place exactly four years after the partying incident during which Josh Brent was behind the wheel when Cowboys practice-squadder Jerry Brown lost his life.

I have made the point that Whitehead -- a spirited figure on social media -- may have been driven by a "look-at-me'' desire to push his partying too deeply into the wee hours; I've been criticized for being (my interpretations here) an "old coot'' and a "party pooper'' for suggesting this is a generational phenomenon.

https://twitter.com/Cianaf/status/807667968909905920

https://twitter.com/LukeEasterling/status/807678847021891589

https://twitter.com/PatrickClaybon/status/807678324403105792

But the critics fail to understand the point; Lucky posted with pride his 2 a.m. party status, then later deleted the post -- a suggestion that he was on the verge of crossing a behavioral line -- and maybe the desire to call attention to himself was part of the fuel that led to the problem in the first place.

And now -- I promise you -- he regrets the entire series of events, social-media posts included.

In any event, engaging in a trendy-but-foolish "Embrace Debate'' action here badly misses the position coach Jason Garrett and Lucky's teammates found themselves in at 7 a.m. ... and 8:30 a.m. ... and 10 a.m. They could not find their employee. They could not find their teammate. They could not find their friend.

Just as, four years ago, as they prepped to board a flight to Cincinnati, they could not account for Brent and Brown.

Whitehead is OK now, and his might be OK, too. The discipline for him having put himself and his high-profile "fun'' above the best interests of the team could end up being a focus-in positive for him in the future and for his teammates on Sunday. (Yes, Garrett could make a further "bold statement'' by cutting Lucky -- you'll hear echoes of Jimmy Johnson having done this to the fumbling running back Curvin Richards from the 1992 squad -- but for now, maybe we should just be satisfied that Lucky was finally located. Additionally, I think it's worth noting that Lucky is a positive part of this team's chemistry, a "little brother'' pal to everyone from Dez Bryant to Tank Lawrence.)

On Sunday, receiver Cole Beasley is Whitehead's punt-return replacement. (Dez is the backup there.) Lance Dunbar will probably be the kick returner. (Don't hold your breath on the activation of Darren McFadden.)  And on offense? Maybe Dallas dumps the Jet Sweep -- and some of the Lucky fumbling issues that come with his playing time.

 Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

There is a bigger-picture issue here as it relates to Lucky Whitehead, though -- bigger than the Giants game and bigger than "fun'' Snapchat photos, too: The Dallas Cowboys have this season done a magnificent job ignoring the "white noise'' from outside the building, ignoring the "fake news'' and ignoring the bogus controversies. That effort is made easier by making certain the work inside the team is controversy-free. ... and Lucky Whitehead just made that effort more difficult.


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