Dallas Cowboys head coach Jason Garrett refused to answer questions on Tuesday regarding the team’s decision to cut wide receiver Lucky Whitehead.
On Monday it was reported that Whitehead had failed to show up for an arraignment hearing related to a June 22nd charge of petty larceny in Woodbridge, Virginia. At the podium later in the day, Garrett would say that it was the first that Garrett had heard of the arrest, and that the incident could cost the player his spot on the roster.
Hours later, he was officially cut from the team.
On Tuesday, it came to be known that the charges against Whitehead were unfounded — the player had instead been the victim of identity theft, as the man caught by police reportedly listed off Whitehead’s name, date of birth, and social security number after being arrested without identification on him.
Reporters present at Garrett’s press conference were eager to ask about the situation, and inquire if Whitehead, now vindicated, had been treated fairly by the team when he was accused, or even given the chance to defend himself when the claim was made against him. Garrett largely refused to answer questions, instead sticking to a prepared line over and over again as reporters followed up.
“Yesterday we made a decision that was deemed to be in the best interest of the Dallas Cowboys,” Garrett said. “We’re standing by that decision. We’re going to move on.”
He repeated this statement with slight variation ten times over the course of the press conference, which you can read a transcript of here and watch highlights of below.
The Cowboys claim that cutting Whitehead had to do with more than just his misreported charge.
For his part, Whitehead denied the initial reports the same day they came out, with his agent David Rich saying it was a case of mistaken identity and citing plane tickets that showed Whitehead was not in Virginia at the time of the alleged incident.
Whitehead didn’t even find out about the fraudulent charges against him until the day he was cut because of them.
“I was pretty much being called a liar,” Whitehead said in an interview with Dallas News. “I didn’t know about a warrant that came about in the first place. Clearly because I wasn’t the person arrested… I knew about it at what? 12:45. By 2:30 I’m released.”
Whitehead went on to note that his teammates believed him, but it was those in the Cowboys organisation and front office that did not.
When Garrett was asked if Whitehead had been given a chance to claim his innocence before getting cut from the team, Garrett said, “We had a number of conversations regarding this,” before adding once again, “We made a decision that we think is in the best interest of the Dallas Cowboys.”
Rich has another theory of what happened to his client, telling Kate Hairopoulos of the Dallas Morning News, “The Cowboys were looking for an example & it backfired on them.”