(This story was published in 2004).

Anonymous players for the Dallas Cowboys used homophobic slurs in a letter attacking a reporter from the Dallas Morning News who wrote critically of the team’s performance.

The Dallas Observer (read the entire article here) obtained a copy of the letter, posted in the team’s locker room in late November, which attacked Morning News beat writer Jean-Jacques Taylor. John Gonzalez, the Observer writer who broke the story, said he “obtained a copy of the letter from a kind DMN scribe who, incidentally, doesn’t write about football. We’re not positive whether the spelling and grammatical errors are the result of the players’ lack of intelligence or our source’s lack of typing skills. Either way, here’s the letter, word for word and completely unchanged since it made its way to us”:

“Dear readers, Jacques has wrote some things about alot of the players on the Dallas Cowboys football team that wasn’t cool. But be he knows what goes on in the locker room (cock watcher) but he really doesn’t know much. If he knew as much about football as he does a bout (performing in a certain way on the manly seed) then maybe you could listen to his B.S. opinion. Maybe he should take a look in the mirro and criticize himself before others. Maybe he should stop eating McDonald’s and spend a little more time with Jared from Subway. We don’t judge you bitch, you’re not all that yourself. Instead of asking the players on theis team and making us look bad to our fans. What fuckin’ team are you watching? Get a life ‘C.’ You are a fraud. You ask for phone numbers then turn on us when things aren’t going so good. You are a fake person. Sometimes you’re cool and sometimes you are a (homosexual F). Good luck never becoming a columnist.”

The player or player who wrote the letter are unidentified, though the Observer said many fingers point to Cowboys safety Roy Williams (pictured left). As Gonzalez wrote:

“The same day Taylor’s story ran, a copy of it was pinned up in Williams’ locker, which is why everyone I talked to in the [Dallas-Fort Worth] sports media thinks that Williams was the author of the unsigned note. That’s the hunch here, too. Williams denied it to NBC 5 sports anchorman Newy Scruggs. ‘Right before we went on the air after it happened,’ Scruggs says, ‘he told me that he only wrote the ‘dear reader’ part and that some of the other guys filled in the rest.’ ”

The Cowboys organization response, via public relations head Rich Dalrymple was, “It’s something we don’t condone as an organization, and it’s been handled internally,” though no specifics were given.

Taylor told the Observer that he wasn’t fazed by the letter. “It didn’t really bother me,” Taylor said. “If you’re gonna make a living criticizing people, you gotta be able to take it when they come back at you. That’s the price of doing business. The only problem I had was that when I write something, I put my name on it. If you want to speak up and say something about me, at least be man enough to put your name on it.

“I don’t know who wrote it for sure, but if you connect the dots, you could probably figure it out.”

What was Taylor’s crime to warrant such an attack? He wrote a story that broke down player salaries and whether, based on performance, the Cowboys were getting good value for their money. Williams was mentioned with this comment: “You can blame the [defensive] scheme, in part, but you can also count his big plays on one hand.”

This seems like more than fair criticism for a team that was expected to contend for a division title but is instead 4-7 and has faint playoff hopes only because it plays in the weak NFC. The Cowboys defense has been sieve-like, allowing the fourth-most points in the NFC. Williams in his first two seasons combined had seven interceptions, five forced fumbles and four sacks; through 11 games this season he has zero in each category.

The letter’s focus on homophobic slurs to attack Taylor is sad and offensive and shows again how backwards sports are in dealing with the issue. Calling someone a fag is still the ultimate put-down in most locker rooms, as our list of anti-gay slurs shows. The Cowboys who authored the letter also showed what cowards they are; why be afraid of a mere sportswriter, especially someone you perceive as gay, and therefore less of a man?

Gonzalez’s article is terrific and I hope it will lead to more coverage of this issue; shining a spotlight on such actions is one way to combat them. I’ll leave him with the final word:

“So to whoever wrote the letter, I say this: We’ve known for a while now that you need to become better football players, but now we know, too, that you need to become better, and bigger, people.

“Also, feel free to pin this story up in the locker room when you’re done sounding out the big words.”