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Two years ago, the Cowboys signed Terrell Owens, a bad guy. T.O. was bad because he had been blamed for poisoning locker rooms in San Francisco and Philadelphia and making enemies in Baltimore after refusing a trade to the Ravens. Owens has never been in trouble off the field and no one would question his work ethic. But he has clashed with teammates and coaches when things haven't gone to his liking.
And then there is Adam 'Pacman' Jones, also a bad guy, but a different kind of bad than T.O. Jones had no problems fitting into the Titans locker room, but off the field he has been almost nothing but trouble, eventually receiving a minimum one year suspension from the NFL.
So which type of bad is worse?
The answer is most likely whichever one you are dealing with at any particular moment. It also depends on exactly what you are talking about. If you are talking about a good teammate, then T.O. is potentially the greater problem. If you are talking about marketing or public perception, Pacman is probably a bigger headache. But either one is more than capable of tearing a team apart.
Which leads us to the Dallas Cowboys. Jerry Jones has apparently discovered a new favorite way to legally circumvent the salary cap: acquiring 'bad guys' cheaply on the rebound. T.O. was a a cheap acquisition two years ago, Tank Johnson became a Cowboy at little cost during last season, and now Pacman is in a holding pattern. Each player is a star on the field, but because of their 'bad boy' history, they have a contract that puts little to no financial risk on the team should any further problems occur.
And as a Cowboy fan, I think this is brilliant.
These players are poison for their old teams so the Cowboys have all the leverage in negotiations. The Boys end up with first round talent for late round picks, Pro Bowlers for backup dollars. Each of these players is likely on their last chance in the NFL with the Cowboys and have so far been on their best behavior. And if a problem should occur all Dallas has to do is release them because of the structure of the contract.
Of course, while the contract structure provides a safety net, these players are acquired with the hopes that that won't have to happen. So far, the Cowboys have been able to create an environment that keeps these players productive and out of trouble. Maybe they have just been lucky. Maybe they really know what they are doing. Either way, the results have been positive so far in Dallas.
Who knows, a few more of these 'bad boy' deals and they might even win a playoff game.
Also published at 110 Percent.