The Dallas Cowboys' 2015 season was one owner Jerry Jones would like to soon forget, and the results on the field didn't tell the whole story. According to at least one Cowboys player, dealing with troubled defensive end Greg Hardy in the locker room wasn’t very easy.
“It was tough. It was tough,” defensive end Jeremy Mincey said on KDFW-TV in Dallas on Sunday. “You know, you got this guy, who you want to be a leader, and then you got that guy. It was just too much.”
Hardy signed a one-year deal with the Cowboys last offseason but was suspended for the first four games for conduct detrimental to the league stemming from an April 2014 domestic violence incident. The emerging details of the case resulted in fiery criticism directed at Jones and the Cowboys for signing Hardy. It reached new heights when Hardy blew up on the sideline, followed by Jones calling him a team leader.
As it turns out, both head coach Jason Garrett and Jones had to meet with Hardy on several occasions for off-field issues ranging from twitter posts to his press conferences to missing team meetings. The insubordination never led to the loss of a starting role or a decrease in playing time. Now, it appears that Hardy’s six sacks and 35 tackles weren’t worth the $8.8 million or the headaches for Dallas, whose desire to bring the defensive end back seem to have diminished.
Mincey, whose locker was next to Hardy's locker, seems to think the Hardy signing may have negatively affected Dallas’ team chemistry. “I hate [that] it happened. You talk about a team that was so close knit and tight, and all of a sudden it was just different,” Mincey said. "I wouldn't say he's the reason for that happening, but sometimes ... if it ain't broke, don't fix it. You know what I mean? And sometimes with change, the team is different. Regardless of how great this athlete is and regardless of this and that, if they're not mentally on the same page then you're not going to get the same results."
Mincey, who didn't record a sack and had just 19 tackles in parts of 14 games, is also a free agent this offseason. The 32-year-old said there is a "50-50 chance" he would return. He expressed doubt that both he and Hardy would return to the Cowboys next season.
“It would be me or him," Mincey said. "It's hard to have two type of line-mentality guys in one room, so it's tough to figure out who the younger guys are going to follow. Of course, they're going to look up to a guy who's a prolific player. But I just understand the game, and I know what it takes to win.”
The Cowboys finished dead last in the NFC East, partially due to being ravaged by injuries to quarterback Tony Romo and wide receiver Dez Bryant. Their 4-12 record was the team’s worst since 1989 when they finished 1-15 under first-year head coach Jimmy Johnson. Dallas has the No. 4 overall pick in the upcoming 2016 NFL Draft.
Here is the Mincey interview.