Will Jerry Go "All In?"

Surely he's not at it again, is he? Jerry Jones as a reputation as a lot of things. He's a brilliant businessman and a successful owner. He'll lurk over his coach's shoulder on the sideline and he'll ruffle feathers on just about anyone, from fans to the NFL office.

He's also a gambler — maybe the biggest gambler in the league. He fired the godfather of NFL coaches almost as soon as he bought the franchise and replaced him with a college coach who delivered three Super Bowl trophies to Valley Ranch. He stuck with players who wandered afoul of the law, and gambled part of the team's future on trades, even some that didn't work out (Joey Galloway, anyone?)

Perhaps more than any other NFL owner, Jones is willing to take chances on acquiring players who aren't always model citizens — Pacman Jones alone puts Jones at the top of that list.

Now there are whispers linking Jones to a pair of other recent first-round picks who have removed themselves from Eagle Scout eligibility with their recent indiscretions: former Chicago Bears (and University of Texas) running back Cedric Benson and soon-to-be-former Jacksonville Jaguars (and former University of Arkansas) wide receiver Matt Jones.

Technically, there is some logic to the possible acquisition of either player. The team needs another receiver if Terry Glenn never returns, and Matt Jones has three things going for him: he's enormous (6-foot-6), fast (has run the 40-yard dash in under 4.4 seconds) and he played at Arkansas — Jerry's alma mater. But if recent allegations that the gifted-but-underachieving wideout was cutting up cocaine in a car prove to be true, he might well be in jail … in which case, it doesn't matter how willing Jerry Jones might be to take that risk. In other words, felony convictions override compassionate owners. The ultimate "possession receiver" almost certainly will get cut by the Jags, who wanted to get rid of him anyway, but he has legal issues might well mean his career is over. If nothing else, a conviction certainly will lead to a suspension of a year.

Benson, on the other hand, is not quite as unrealistic. But signing him would be an enormous mistake.

The former UT star was arrested twice on alcohol-related charges, and subsequently dismissed by the Bears. The Cowboys could, theoretically, use him — he's a big back who could fill in for starter Marion Barber in spot duty and on short yardage, since first-round pick Felix Jones is too slender to fill that role. Should Barber get injured, Benson could be a tolerable fill-in, but even then, it would be only if fellow rookie Tashard Choice or perhaps Alonzo Coleman don't pan out.

But it's still not a chance the Cowboys should take. Pacman Jones has a lengthy list of off-field mishaps, but he also has blistering speed and the talent and versatility to contribute significantly on defense and on special teams. Benson wasn't fast to begin with, and has fostered a reputation since joining the Bears as someone who has to be prodded into working — at his game and his conditioning.

Having been unemployed for weeks, and his legal issues unresolved — most speculate that his status within the league's substance abuse program will result in a four-game suspension once he gets signed — Benson has yet to find a new employer, and chances are that whatever team signs him will get him for the league minimum, signing him to what would amount to a one-year tryout.

Jerry Jones has not expressed interest to the media in either player, and the rumors of his interest might prove to be just that: rumors. But if he is interested, he shouldn't be. But even the league minimum is more than the Cowboys should invest in either player in a season that opens amid such lofty expectations.

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