Lucky Whitehead has to be dumbfounded and confounded right about now.
The young man has been something of a standout ever since he first stepped on the football team as a child. Like most elite athletes, he was able to make it to the National Football League by clearly being better than his peers at the high school and college levels.
He rode his speed, explosiveness and incredible strength to the pinnacle of the sport. But once you make it to the NFL, you learn that there are many players who are just as good, if not better than you are. To be a decent player in the NFL is one thing. To be considered elite is quite another.
Lucky Whitehead TD Catch – 2009
Former Osbourn Receiver Lucky Whitehead now plays for the Dallas Cowboys, but before that, he was a star for the Eagles…..
Pop Warner players are indoctrinated into the concept of a team only being as strong as its weakest link at the tender age of eight years old. However, average or below average players are quickly made aware of the reality of their circumstance the very first time the best player on their teams falls afoul of the rules. Quite simply, one’s importance to the team dynamic hinges upon how well your abilities translate into victories. The more dynamic the player is on the field of play, the more leeway he or she tends to be given when things off the field go awry.
A childhood friend who we affectionately called Willie Whirl would often run afoul of school authorities and law enforcement alike as early as elementary school. Descended from a long line of street hustlers, it was almost expected that he would eventually be on the block. But no one expected it to happen so early. I can still recall how he would outrun flatfoot patrolman and truant officers with great regularity.
Rumor has it that the varsity football coaching staff bailed him out of the local youth detention center on several occasions. Had he not been so elusive, so tough, and so damn ridiculously fast, chances are he would have never even made the football team due to excessive absences, let alone become the featured running back on a state-ranked team as a sophomore.
Lucky Whitehead on Twitter
Woke up this morning like #VictoryMonday
For certain, there are many far more egregious incidents of favoritism that I’ve witnessed throughout my life. But Whirl’s is my most favorite, in part, because he grew out of his immaturity and now is a model husband, father and a top executive at a mega bank.
For Lucky Whitehead, the path to maturity apparently has been forced upon him by circumstances out of his control. On Monday,the Prince William County Police Department erroneously reported that the then Dallas Cowboys punt returner and wide receiver was the prime suspect in a shoplifting incident in Virginia.
The following day, the Cowboys, who signed him as an undrafted free agent out of Florida Atlantic University in 2015, cut him.
SportsCenter on Twitter
Lucky Whitehead is disappointed in how the Cowboys handled his case of mistaken identity. https://t.co/dAKHFcZ44N
The Cowboys organization has had more than its fair share of players who have had run-ins with law enforcement. But we don’t have to go back that far for examples of stellar athletes being given a long leash to make total fools of themselves by team owner Jerry Jones.
Superstar running back Ezekiel Elliott got on the bad side of the media when video surfaced of him lifting up a young lady’s shirt to expose her breasts at a St. Patrick’s Day parade. He was also implicated in a bar fight that resulted in a man being taken to the hospital after being punched in the face.
Last year, the Cowboys brain trust looked insensitive and chauvinistic as they made excuse after excuse for signing accused woman-beater and all-around sh*tty guy Greg Hardy because of the dearth of pass rushers on the team at the time. Elliott led the NFL in rushing as a rookie and Hardy was one of the most feared pass rush threats in the NFL since very early on in his career. The positive impact they each could potentially have on the team was irrefutable.
Dip N’ Dunk Sports on Twitter
Lucky Whitehead has been pretty unlucky… Dog stolen for ransom, Falsely accused of burglary, Cut from the #Cowboys
Lucky Whitehead’s path to the NFL ran through such places as Dean College and Florida Atlantic, not even close to being the beaten path to pro success. When his circumstances originally came to my attention, I automatically assumed guilt, not because of the color of his skin or that he was a Dallas Cowboy, but because it was possible that he did do what he was accused of. Hell, Dallas has had a player accused of shoplifting in the relatively recent past and the franchise has history of coddling and protecting men who have had run ins with the law.
However, when it dawned on me that his prior offense involved reneging on a ransom that he agreed to pay for a lost pet, and that he’d had a history of in-house disciplinary issues, it became clear that Whitehead was sacrificed in order to uphold an illusion of order in Arlington that never, ever existed in the past.
It’s a shame, not a crying shame because Whitehead’s talents allowed him to be signed by the Jets earlier today, but it’s still a shame.
Ian Rapoport on Twitter
Former #Cowboys WR Lucky Whitehead has been claimed by the #Jets, source said. He finds a new home after a wild week.
Yes, his prior actions wreaked of immaturity. But when comparing them to the actions of other NFL players accused of heinous crimes that still have their jobs, it becomes clear that some sort of goofy scapegoating is at play. If you have the type of talent that can carry a franchise, you can almost get away with murder. But if you’re a player somewhere in the middle of the depth chart, you’re expendable.
Hey, Jerry Jones and head coach Jason Garrett didn’t create this paradigm, but they have been gleefully and un-apologetically operating within it just like most coaches the world over, hypocrisy amid the illusion of a team dynamic is as old as team sports.
As an aside, “Damn shame what they did to that dog…”