Ed Driscoll

Dallas Cowboys QB Shocker

Quincy Carter, the Dallas Cowboys’ starting quarterback last year, was apparently released today in a very surprising move.

While Parcells had brought in 40 year old veteran Vinny Testaverde, all reports indicated that he would be backing up Carter. There had been no news that either head coach Bill Parcells or Cowboys owner Jerry Jones had been upset with Carter during the offseason.

Update: ESPN’s Len Pasquarelli writes:

Sources told ESPN and ESPN.com that Carter recently failed a team-administered drug test. Carter already was in the NFL substance-abuse program, having tested positive for an illegal substance in the past, according to ESPN’s Chris Mortensen.

Well, that helps to explain the unexpected nature of the release.

Another Update: Paul Attner of the The Sporting News writes:

Fans don’t understand the NFL’s drug policy. They don’t understand why players are constantly given second, third and fourth chances instead of being tossed off their respective teams. They know there are reasons, but they don’t agree.

Those fans have a new hero in Bill Parcells.

He is their hero because he made a stand on drugs with Wednesday’s release of Quincy Carter. He made a stand by cutting his starting quarterback, the man who unexpectedly led his team into the playoffs last season. He cut him a few days into training camp, severely disrupting his offensive plans and a good chunk of his playbook. But he did it because he had told his players what he expected from them and Carter did not meet those standards.

Without Carter, the Cowboys are left with Vinny Testaverde, raw rookie Drew Henson and unproven second-year man Tony Romo at quarterback. With this decision, Parcells might have eliminated this team from playoff contention. It is a move that probably no other franchise in the league would make, considering the damage it does to the team’s short-term prospects.

But to Parcells, this was a test of his integrity. If he establishes expectations for behavior and reliability, and then passes on releasing Carter, he is not only betraying himself but also the loyalty of his players. This was all about credibility. Carter was the test case and Parcells proved to be a man of his word.

This reportedly is the second time Carter has failed a drug test. That brings into question his dependability and trustworthiness. How can you rely on a quarterback who might later have a third failure, which could lead to a league suspension? This was a shaky and dangerous path for the Cowboys to follow and Parcells declined the temptation.

With Ricky Williams and now apparently Carter, that’s two extremely high-profile players out of the NFL (at least for now) because of drugs. How many more to follow this season?

One More Update: Dallas’s Channel 5, their NBC affiliate writes:

As the day progressed, word of failed drug tests had circulated across the Cowboys’ training camp compound. Carter (pictured, left) was enrolled in the NFL’s drug rehabilitation program after the 2002 season.

By late morning Central Daylight Time, the team acknowledged Carter suddenly had been cut. During a press conference conducted at 1:30 p.m. CDT, team owner Jerry Jones made the official announcement that Carter no longer was a member of the Cowboys, and the team decided to “move in a different direction.”

NBC 5 sports anchor Newy Scruggs said he spoke with Jones about reports of Carter having failed two drug tests, and asked Jones if the reports were accurate. No official confimation has been given by the team or the NLF [sic–Ed]office.

Scruggs said Jones replied that he didn’t want to comment on the reports. According to Scruggs, Jones looked down, looked back at Scruggs and said, “You wouldn’t be wrong going with that.”

NFL rules prohibit teams from testing players for drugs. The league office typically conducts drug testing. Cowboys and league officials have remained “tight-lipped” about any possible results of tests administered to Carter.

Last Update For Now: Mickey Spagnola, a veteran columnist for the Dallas Cowboy’s offical Website, runs roughshod over Carter. I have no idea who, if anybody, checks Spagnola’s copy before it’s uploaded, but if this reflects the official tone of the Cowboys, they are more than a little angry with Carter. A lot more.