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October 17, 2013

Cowboys decline to dispute Ratliff's health complaints, say release was best for team now and later

By Clarence Hill Jr.

Cowboys owner Jerry Jones and coach Jason Garrett declined to elaborate on the decision to release injured defensive tackle Jay Ratliff, simply saying it was best for the team now and in the future.

Citing legal reasons about the disclosure of medical information, they also declined to dispute allegations made by Ratliff’s agent Mark Slough that the injury has sidelined the defensive tackle all season is much worse than “the sports hernia” as initially purported by the Cowboys.

“I don’t want to get in the details of the medical situation,” Garrett said. “I don’t want to do that, and we can’t do that by law. But you know, again, he’s been a heck of a football player for our team. We made the decision because we think it’s in the best interests of the Dallas Cowboys now and going forward.

Said Jones: “We don’t get into, especially under these circumstances, the details of opinions of injury and this has also become a legal matter and so you can understand the need to not comment on specifics at this time.” 

Ratliff played in only six games last season before undergoing surgery for a “sports hernia” in December. The Cowboys hoped Ratliff would be ready for the 2013 season and have a huge impact in the new 4-3 defensive under coordinator Monte Kiffin.

Ratliff suffered a setback on the first day of training camp when he suffered a hamstring injury during conditional drills, complicated his rehab from the hernia surgery. Slough said Ratliff should not have done the conditioning drills because he wasn’t healthy. Jones and Garrett said it was Ratliff who made the decision to do the pre-camp drills in an attempt to pass the physical to practice.

Ratliff missed all of training camp and the preseason. The Cowboys held out hope that putting him on the PUP list for the first six games would give him time to heal and return healthy for the bulk of the season before deciding this week to part ways with the nine-year veteran and four-time Pro Bowler because he is no where close to returning.

“We just think availability due to health has been the biggest issue with Jay over the last couple of years,” Garrett said. “He’s been a heck of a football player for this team for a long time, and Jay played the right way, he practiced the right way, football was important to him, he was a heck of a competitor -- heck of a leader on our football team because of the example that he set to everybody else about how you need to play this game. … We just felt like this is the right decision for our football team now and going forward.” 
Jones said he has no ill will toward Ratliff, despite a confrontation in the locker room last year, citing "a long history of having an appreciation for guys who give it up and work and play through pain, and I do with Jay. So it is disappointing that that great career of his has to end.”

Jones said the move was best for the Cowboys in the long run and has psychological advantage this year as the team can move on and not continue waiting for help that is not going to come.

 “I just as soon focus on the pluses and the other thing I think that this does (is) psychologically we know we’ve got what we’ve got,” Jones said. “At least in this regard, help is not on the way. So it clears that point up rather than him be blowing and going and healthy and really productive out there but at least we know what we’re dealing with as a franchise and certainly as a team for right now.”

Slough added another layer to the ongoing drama Thursday when he said there was a possibility that Ratliff could play again in 2013 _ one day after agreeing with the Cowboys that he was likely done for the season and pointing toward 2014.

 "I'm saying that Jay is going to see his surgeon in Philly next week and if he gets a good report, I would not completely rule out his returning to the field sometime in 2013," Slough said. 

Clarence Hill



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