When defensive end Greg Hardy faced a suspension for domestic violence allegations in 2015, Cowboys owner Jerry Jones signed him.
When Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliott served a six-game suspension in 2017 stemming from domestic violence allegations, Jones blasted NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell for making Elliott a “victim of overcorrection.”
So last week, when the 49ers waived linebacker Reuben Foster and the Chiefs parted with running back Kareem Hunt, both in the wake of allegations of violence against women, Jones was paying attention.
“Yes, keeping a very close eye,” he told Dallas radio station 105.3 The Fan Tuesday morning. “Have a keen interest in how that is playing out.”
The Redskins claimed Foster, who will remain on the commissioner's exempt list while the league investigates his Nov. 24 arrest. Hunt went unclaimed after TMZ released video of him attacking a woman at a Cleveland hotel in February.
The Cowboys, whose linebackers and running back are among the team’s best strengths, didn’t submit claims for either.
“Everyone has no tolerance for domestic abuse,” Jones said. “Zero tolerance for domestic abuse. Consequently, we have to deal with the fact that we’re so physical and it’s such an important story.
“The truth is, to get to be a part of the NFL and a part of the perception of the NFL, you have to give up some of the rights you’d have to have if maybe you weren’t a part of the NFL. In other words, you’re held to a higher standard because of the visibility involved — not that you shouldn’t have that basic behavior to begin with.
“That’s the challenge here.”
It’s a situation Jones encountered with Hardy and Elliott, with the owner deciding in both instances to advocate for the Pro Bowl players.
Before he signed with the Cowboys, Hardy was charged with assaulting and threatening his ex-girlfriend. A jury found him guilty, but charges were dropped after prosecutors said Hardy's ex-girlfriend stopped cooperating following a financial settlement. The league suspended him 10 games, but the ban was reduced to four on appeal.
Elliott received a six-game suspension after allegations of violence against a then-girlfriend that the league termed a violation of its personal conduct policy. No charges were filed by the Columbus city attorney, whose office said there was “conflicting and inconsistent information.”
In December 2014, the league updated its personal conduct to warrant a “baseline suspension of six games without pay for violations involving assault, battery, domestic violence, dating violence, child abuse, other forms of family violence, or sexual assault, with consideration given to possible mitigating or aggravating circumstances."
Jones declined comment when asked whether the Redskins’ decision hurt the league image.
“We’ve got a competitive situation as far as Washington is concerned,” said Jones, adding he hadn’t spoken to anyone in the Redskins front office. “I know they’re doing everything they can to be as good a team as they can be.”
Ex-Cowboys tight end and current ESPN analyst Jason Witten, who played for Dallas during Hardy and Elliott’s suspensions, criticized the Redskins' move to add Foster when asked about it during the team's Monday Night Football loss to the Eagles. Witten’s father was verbally and physically abusive to him as well as his brothers and mom growing up, he has said. When Witten was 11, they fled. Witten runs a foundation for victims of domestic violence.
“A hundred percent no” the Redskins shouldn’t have claimed Foster, said Witten, who in 2015 with Hardy said it wasn’t his job to choose who plays for the Cowboys. “I believe the Washington Redskins used horrendous judgment in claiming this guy.
“Young players just have to understand there is no tolerance for putting your hands on a woman. Period.”
Follow Jori Epstein on Twitter @JoriEpstein.
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