Jason Hatcher still believes in his winter thoughts about the Cowboys’ leadership.
But he also likes what he is seeing right now.
And if that’s a result of what he said in February, that’s fine.
“I wasn’t dogging nobody. I wasn’t dogging the leaders we had,” the veteran defensive end said Sunday night at a benefit in Dallas for the North Texas Food Bank. “I just felt like, you know, guys can do better.”
In February, when Hatcher was asked in a radio interview on KESN 103.3 FM “The Fan” who the team leaders were, he said, “That’s a good question. I really don’t know.” He added that the Cowboys have talent but need a “Ray Lewis type” who “everybody buys into.”
Hatcher told reporters Sunday night that he was speaking from the heart and that he has seen a change.
“Whether it rubbed somebody the wrong way or not, I say what’s on my heart at the time,” he said. “I’m not going to say anything I ever regret. It was on my heart at the time, so I said it. ... Guys have stepped up. I like the way this team is going. We’ve got camaraderie, guys looking out for each other, guys working together. That’s the direction you’ve got to go as far as getting to the championship game. I’m very excited.”
Hatcher said linebacker Sean Lee, the team’s leading tackler last year, looks like a born leader.
“Sean’s always been that guy,” Hatcher said. “He will call you out in a second. We just need more guys like that. We can’t accept certain stuff, and we’re not going to do it this year. It’s a totally different team. We’re just taking the approach, one day at a time, we’re all trying to reach the common goal, which is the Super Bowl, so everybody has got to go the same direction. So I’m very, very happy the way this team is going.”
Asked if he’s a vocal leader himself, Hatcher said no, that he leads by example.
“It’s not going to be me making no rah-rah speech,” he said. “It’s going to be the hard-working Hatch that I’ve been since I’ve been here. People saw me work hard. I never gave up. I didn’t get the playing time I wanted, but look at me now. I’m a starter. That’s the way I lead. I can’t give you a rah-rah speech to tell you to get going. But I can every day, work my butt off, and I can be an example for you. If you look at me and step on the field, I’m going to work. You know that. So Hatch is working, I’ve got to work. So if I can lead in that aspect of it, I will. As far as saying something to the team, getting them going? I’m not that guy. I’m just a hard worker.”
Hatcher, a seven-year veteran drafted in the third round by the Cowboys, said he does not mind someone keeping him in line – as long as that someone has credibility.
“If I’m approaching the game wrong, get in my face,” he said. “If you’re working hard, get in my face. But if you’re slacking, you can’t say nothing to me. If you’re not a leader, if you’re not taking care of your business, you can’t say nothing to me. But if you’re going out there working hard day in and day out and I respect you, you can say something to me. And we’ve got that this year. Guys are working hard every single day. And I’ve grown to respect a lot of cats on this team. And we all have. It’s a very, very neat deal. You just see things unfolding in front of your eyes. It’s just one of those things that you pray for at night, and you know what’s wrong, and once you see it starting to fix itself, you say, ‘Here we go, now we’re going in the right direction,’ and I definitely feel that about this team this year.”
Hatcher said the players are getting to know each other better, also.
“It’s hard to play for the man across from you when you don’t know him,” he said. “But if you know him inside and out, you know his family, you know him as a person, you can go to war for him. And that’s what we have right now. Guys have been up here two months working out together. I’m just getting excited right now thinking about it. I’m ready to roll, just to see how this season turns out.”
-- Carlos Mendez