Dallas’ decision to lavish up to $11 million on a one year deal for DE Greg Hardy —- who settled out of court last year after being charged with assault and death threats by his former girlfriend —- has been criticized by everyone from Mayor Mike Rawlings to WFAA’s Dale Hansen (above).  The slightly more blase Tim Colishaw of the Dallas Morning News, however, argues, “the Cowboys’ lack of a moral compass is not a product of the Jerry Jones generation. He did not initiate the practice of bringing criminals to town to put stars on their helmets.”

The police were more lenient a half century ago about letting Cowboys escape jail time or in helping them keep things under wraps. Former all-pro guard John Niland saw his world after football unravel in a haze of drugs and alcohol before getting his life back in order. As he once put it, “When an active player gets busted, they squash it.”

How many did we never hear about? Who can say, but where do you suppose former wide receiver Pete Gent got his ideas for North Dallas Forty?

Even if protecting them was common practice, the Cowboys found their way to the police blotter. Nobody made a fuss when the Cowboys traded for the Vikings’ Lance Rentzel, even though the wide receiver had been arrested for exposing himself to underage girls in Minnesota. When he did the same thing to a 10-year old girl in Dallas in 1970 (while married to actress Joey Heatherton), the Cowboys reacted swiftly by…

Well, actually Rentzel asked to be placed on the inactive list. He was traded that off-season to the Los Angeles Rams (yes, there was still a market for him), and the NFL eventually got around to handing him a lengthy suspension two years later.

For possession of marijuana.