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Lucky Whitehead and Liability

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Lucky Whitehead worked out with the Dallas Cowboys at their Oxnard, Calif., training camp Monday. Photo: Michael Owen Baker/Associated Press

A young football player named Lucky Whitehead was released by the Dallas Cowboys the first day into training camp when it was revealed he was facing petty larceny charges for stealing about $25 worth of goods from a convenience store. It was later determined Whitehead was misidentified by police and was not even in the city when the incident happened. The Cowboys are not taking Whitehead back, stating the move was made because of his lack of ability rather than the incident. This is, of course, a lie but is there recourse?

It is an obvious falsehood by the Cowboys organization because there is no reason to release a player on the first day of camp. There are deadlines by which mandatory cuts must be enacted but we are nowhere near any of those points. There were largely no contract or money bonus issues to make the move financially motivated. There was no reason to do it except the report. It was done because of the police report, it’s that simple.

The idea I’d like to examine is if there is anything to be done about it. The Prince William County, Pa., police department certainly made a mistake but it appears the real suspect had Whitehead’s full name and Social Security number, which he gave to police. The officers then incorrectly confirmed Whitehead’s identity from a picture taken by the Department of Motor Vehicles. I think it’s likely the police were eager to nab a minor celebrity in a crime but their mistake is fully understandable, if regrettable.

The Cowboys made their decision based on the information they had at the time although it is clear they should have spoken to Whitehead and waited before rushing to a final decision. Whitehead likely doesn’t want much to do with the Cowboys at this point, his agent indicated as much. There will almost certainly be other opportunities for him to play with other teams.

Sometimes when a series of mistakes happen there really isn’t much to do. Sometimes it’s best just to move on with life. The perpetrator was wrong to implicate Whitehead, the police were wrong to issue the statement before they finished the investigation, and the Cowboys were wrong to release Whitehead so quickly.

The apparent loser in all of this is Whitehead, but even then, it’s not all that awful. A marginal NFL player doesn’t mind a little favorable publicity. As I mentioned, it’s highly likely he’ll get picked up by another team and get a chance to show off his ability.

That being said, it’s a good lesson for all of us not to leap to conclusions. It’s usually a good idea to take a deep breath, count to ten, and pause before taking irrevocable action.

Best of luck to Whitehead and shame on the Cowboys.

By Tom Liberman

Tom Liberman is a regular fellow from St. Louis, Mo., who enjoys spending time with his wonderful family and great friends. He writes Sword and Sorcery fantasy novels in his spare time. 

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