The Dallas Cowboys released Lucky Whitehead on Monday, hours after reports emerged that the wide receiver/kick returner had failed to appear for arraignment in connection with a shoplifting charge. An arrest warrant reportedly was issued for Whitehead, whose agent argued that police have the wrong man.
Rodney Darnell Whitehead Jr., 25, was arrested June 22 on shoplifting/petit larceny charge of less than $200, according to Prince William County (Va.) records. TMZ reports that a warrant was issued when he failed to appear for a July 6 arraignment, and the court proceeding has been rescheduled for Aug. 10.
Whitehead said of the charge to reporters, “I didn’t even know about that. I don’t know what’s going on.”
NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport reported that Whitehead’s agent had shown him flight records indicating that the third-year player, who was born and raised in Manassas and was a second-team All-Met out of Osbourn High, did not fly from Dallas to Dulles Airport until several hours after the alleged incident took place. The agent, David Rich, also told ESPN’s Adam Schefter that Whitehead did not receive his summons because he was not in Virginia at the time.
Nevertheless, the Cowboys could be trying to send a message to their team, or possibly to the public, that they have reached the limits of their tolerance after a steady stream of off-the-field issues. Most notably, star running back Ezekiel Elliott is under investigation by the league for an alleged 2015 domestic incident for which no charges were filed.
In addition, Elliott has had several other incidents: involvement in an altercation at a club in Dallas (the investigation was suspended by police), a St. Patrick’s Day prank in which he pulled up a woman’s shirt and an April speeding ticket. Linebacker Damien Wilson was arrested July 4 in Texas on charges of assault with a deadly weapon in what he said was a road-rage incident; defensive end David Irving has been suspended for four games for violating the NFL’s performance-enhancing drug policy; and rookie cornerback Jourdan Lewis is facing trial this week in Ann Arbor, Mich., for a misdemeanor domestic-violence charge.
Whitehead himself made headlines earlier this month, albeit of a happier variety, when he was reunited with his dog after claiming it was being held for ransom. The Dean College and Florida Atlantic product, who joined Dallas as an undrafted free agent in 2015, was also left off a team road trip last season after he missed a meeting the day before a game.
At the Cowboys’ training camp in Oxnard, Calif., Coach Jason Garrett told reporters that he found out about Whitehead’s warrant as he came off the practice field Monday. “We’re gathering information on it and we’ll respond accordingly,” Garrett said.
“It’s just unfortunate for the kid,” Rich told Schefter.