IRVING - What happened in the Cowboys' locker room between nose tackle Jay Ratliff and a veteran Cowboys beat reporter on Thursday should not come as a giant surprise. I was there to witness the "fun", which was a tad uncomfortable, and totally predictable.
Ratliff had to be physically separated from long-time Cowboys beat reporter Calvin Watkins, who now works for ESPNDallas.com. Watkins previously worked for the Star-Telegram, Dallas Morning News and has been around this team for years.
On Thursday, Watkins was asking Ratliff about the news regarding former Cowboys receiver Sam Hurd's arrest for drug trafficking. The chat went south quickly; suddenly I see Marcus Spears and Martellus Bennett pushing both Ratliff and Watkins in opposite directions. Some rather unfriendly, and unprintable, words were exchanged. Something like, "You stink." "No, you stink" ... only with saltier language, at a much higher volume.
UPDATE: Per some information from some more people who were there, apparently Calvin was really pushing on this one when Jay told him to "walk away." Calvin did not, and that's when the fun started.
While most of the media horde was surrounding Cowboys defensive coordinator Rob Ryan, who during this near altercation said, "My money's on Ratliff."
Don't believe that this high-pitched conversation had anything to do with the Cowboys having lost a pair of games, and are in the process of falling apart again in December. How this type of thing has not happened with Jay Ratliff sooner is the real shock.
For my money, Jay Ratliff is one of these guys who you just really don't want to mess with because you're never sure which Jay Ratliff is there that day.
Don't believe me? Fine. Believe his teammate.
It was DeMarcus Ware who said of Ratliff: "They are two different guys. One is a jokester, and Jay wants to grab and choke you.... You don’t know what to expect from Jay. One day Jay will come in happy and the next day he’ll roll his eyes. And I’m like, ‘We’re going to have a long day.’"
Ware said this a few days after the obscure 7th-round pick out of Auburn was pressed into the starting role in September of 2007 because of a season-ending injury to Jason Ferguson.
When he is in the right mood, Jay can be charming, funny, bright and very well-spoken. When he's not in the right mood, forget it. There can be level of aggression that this guy projects that is exceptionally uncomfortable for just about any environment other than a football field.
Jay's relationship with the media has always been testy. Something happened with a reporter when he was a teenager and he never really got over it, or at the very least he's leery of us as a whole.
My gut tells me after what I saw Thursday that really hasn't changed too much.
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