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Burying Past In The Tank

wee hours of the morning and ticketed for speeding in suburban Phoenix, Ariz. That was it. The Bears cut ties on June 25, never even waiting for the toxicology report to come in, which, by the way, came back negative for being "impaired." 

Too late. This was just another incident in a long line of incidents. 

"We are upset and embarrassed by Tank's actions last week," said Chicago general manager Jerry Angelo at the time. "He compromised the credibility of our organization. We made it clear to him that he had no room for error. Our goal was to help someone through a difficult period in his life, but the effort needs to come from both sides. It didn't, and we have decided to move on." 

That is why Terry Johnson - a man troubled with gun charges probably should never be called Tank - was available to be signed by the Cowboys on Tuesday. Nor should he ever again indicate his troubles in December were overblown by the media or actually say as he did that Media Day at Super Bowl XLI, "But it's the job of you guys to hype the hot story. Unfortunately I was the story that gave you guys ammunition to write about me." 

And I'm also guessing he might have learned to tone down his image, and probably not be so defiant, in saying as he did that same day in Miami, "When you see me walking down the street, I don't look like you. I don't talk like you, and I don't walk like you. So it's easy to say, 'He's just like the other people.' That's what we see all the time. I give you guys opportunities to stereotype me like that. It's unfortunate." 

Boy, but then that was before he spent the 60 days in jail. 

Again, look, no matter what, 6-3, 300-pound talented defensive tackles are not usually on the street come Sept. 18, two games into a season. And most teams, after just having set their 53-man roster but 17 days ago, aren't willing to roll the dice on a guy who won't even be available to practice or play until Nov. 5 - or unless Goodell makes good on his stipulation to potentially reduce the eight-game suspension to six for good behavior and 100-percent compliance with his counseling program, although remember, the incident in Gilbert, Ariz., occurred after Goodell's sentence. 

But the Cowboys aren't most teams. They incurred a need for such a commodity just one quarter into the 2007 season. Veteran nose tackle Jason Ferguson was lost for the season with a torn biceps. They had no legitimate replacement, and since they decided against addressing the need with a veteran nose tackle in the off-season and preferred to test young guys, all they could do was use backup defensive end Jay Ratliff to start this past Sunday against Miami. 

Ratliff played well. Problem is, all that's behind him now is Remi Ayodele, who played in his first NFL game Sunday at Miami. That isn't much. 

Now Ratliff played well. In fact, Cowboys head coach Wade Phillips said on Monday the Cowboys were in no panic to sign another defensive tackle. 

"I don't think we're going to panic because I think he can play," Phillips said of Ratliff. "I thought that all along. I thought he was potentially a starter somewhere for us because of his work ethic and his great motor and his ability. Every time they double-team him, they didn't move him. He gave us a good pass rush, which usually you don't get from the nose guard. I thought he played well." 

This signing of Johnson is no reflection on Ratliff's ability to play the position, but possibly his longevity at the high-impact position and continued ability to still be the valued pass-rushing defensive tackle on the nickel's four-man line. That's a lot for a less-than-300-pound man, no matter his talent. 

This signing also is Jones and the needy Cowboys trying to take advantage of an unlikely situation; making a cold business decision for the potential betterment of the product down the line. 

The Cowboys have done this in the past with checkered results. In a corner pickle in 2005, Tyrone Williams comes to mind. The guy conveniently pulled a hamstring, then gave off vibes he really didn't want to play any more football. The Cowboys released him. 

The mentally-troubled Alonzo Spellman and Dimitrius Underwood come to mind. Spellman worked well

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