By Stephen Young
By Stephen Young
By Stephen Young
By Jim Schutze
By Rachel Watts
By Lauren Drewes Daniels
It's been some two weeks since an unidentified player, or players, penned a sophomoric and nearly illiterate letter lambasting Dallas Morning News football writer Jean-Jacques Taylor. The letter was unsigned and posted in the team's Valley Ranch locker room during media hours a few days before the Cowboys got smoked by the Eagles on Monday night. The Dallas Observer obtained a copy of the letter from a kind DMN scribe who, incidentally, doesn't write about football. We're not positive whether the spelling and grammatical errors are the result of the players' lack of intelligence or our source's lack of typing skills. Either way, here's the letter, word for word and completely unchanged since it made its way to us:
"Dear readers, Jacques has wrote some things about alot of the players on the Dallas Cowboys football team that wasn't cool. But be he knows what goes on in the locker room (cock watcher) but he really doesn't know much. If he knew as much about football as he does a bout (performing in a certain way on the manly seed) then maybe you could listen to his B.S. opinion. Maybe he should take a look in the mirro and criticize himself before others. Maybe he should stop eating McDonald's and spend a little more time with Jared from Subway. We don't judge you bitch, you're not all that yourself. Instead of asking the players on theis team and making us look bad to our fans. What fuckin' team are you watching? Get a life 'C.' You are a fraud. You ask for phone numbers then turn on us when things aren't going so good. You are a fake person. Sometimes you're cool and sometimes you are a (homosexual F). Good luck never becoming a columnist."
Ignoring, for a moment, the non sequiturs, the immature personal attacks and the generally confusing language, what really pisses me off about the letter is the lack of accountability. It's hard for me to properly focus my anger, because the offending party, or parties, didn't bother to sign the note. They also lacked the conviction to post the letter themselves, choosing instead to force a team locker room attendant to do their dirty work for them. Nice and neat and clean for them. They got to disparage Taylor without looking like the dim-witted skirts they are.
But maybe Taylor provoked them, and maybe he deserved it--I know that's what you're thinking. Journalists tend to be devil worshipers and child molesters and puppy kickers, so we get what we have coming to us, right? Except it was a benign set of circumstances that prompted the players' retaliation.
On the Wednesday before the Eagles game, Taylor's story titled "Money players? Or simply cashing checks?" ran in the DMN. The story broke down player salaries and whether, based on performance, the Cowboys were getting good value for their money. It was a largely inoffensive piece. The beginning of the story talked about players who have performed relatively well for not much money. The back end of the story carried a bit more punch--it was subtitled "They should give Jerry a refund." Roy Williams was included in that last section along with this: "You can blame the scheme, in part, but you can also count his big plays on one hand."
That was it. No attacks on Williams' weight or his sexuality, nothing personal, just an honest appraisal of his lackluster season using words far more conciliatory than I would have chosen. (I would have written this: "You can blame the scheme, in part, but you can also say that he's played the way Kelly Rowland sings--poorly.") No, what Taylor wrote didn't merit the type of over-the-top indictment levied upon him.
Understand, I've harshly criticized a number of sports writers at the DMN for everything from being assholes to terrible writers, and I'd do it again in this space if I thought it was warranted. No one likes to rip on those guys more than I do, but Taylor didn't deserve that sort of treatment. He was doing his job, unlike the players. And, unlike the players, he never made it personal. Even now, when most other writers (and at least one Observer columnist) would want to seek revenge, Taylor continues to be professional.
"It didn't really bother me," Taylor says. "If you're gonna make a living criticizing people, you gotta be able to take it when they come back at you. That's the price of doing business. The only problem I had was that when I write something, I put my name on it. If you want to speak up and say something about me, at least be man enough to put your name on it.
"I don't know who wrote it for sure, but if you connect the dots, you could probably figure it out."
OK, let's do that.
The same day Taylor's story ran, a copy of it was pinned up in Williams' locker, which is why everyone I talked to in the D-FW sports media thinks that Williams was the author of the unsigned note. That's the hunch here, too. Williams denied it to NBC 5 sports anchorman Newy Scruggs. "Right before we went on the air after it happened," Scruggs says, "he told me that he only wrote the 'dear reader' part and that some of the other guys filled in the rest."
The important thing is the timeline, not the lame excuses. Taylor's story ran on a Wednesday. On Thursday, offensive lineman Torrin Tucker snapped a Polaroid of Taylor while he was in the locker room. Then, on Friday, the response/letter, along with the picture of Taylor, was posted in the team locker room in plain sight. So maybe Tucker aided Williams in writing the note, or maybe a number of other players helped, too. Either way, how it unfolded offers yet another reason why their cowardice is so damn offensive: Had it been a spur-of-the-moment reaction, had they written the letter the same day Taylor's story came out, you might be able to explain it away. But they had two days to think it through and calm down. Which they didn't. Not only was it an example of poor judgment and infantile behavior, but it was also lazy. They had two days to write something really good or scathing, but instead all they managed was a letter that read like a cry for its author to be enrolled in one of those "Hooked on Phonics" remedial literacy programs.
"It's something we don't condone as an organization, and it's been handled internally," was the team's official response through PR director Rich Dalrymple.
That's a start, but it's not enough. There should've been a formal apology, or at least a public reprimand of the offenders. Instead, we're left to wonder about the authors while talking about their spinelessness as an abstraction.
So to whoever wrote the letter, I say this: We've known for a while now that you need to become better football players, but now we know, too, that you need to become better, and bigger, people.
Also, feel free to pin this story up in the locker room when you're done sounding out the big words.