The Prince William County (Virginia) Police Department said in a statement Tuesday that a man charged with shoplifting on June 22 was not former Dallas Cowboys wide receiver Lucky Whitehead, as they had originally indicated.
Whitehead and his agent, David Rich, said Monday that it was a case of mistaken identity. Rich cited flight records to prove that Whitehead wasn’t in Virginia at the time of the incident.
“It’s disappointing, but it’s a tough life lesson for the young man. He’ll be fine. I’ve had three or four teams reach out to me already, and I wouldn’t be surprised if he was picked up, especially with the way rosters are right now.”
Agent David Rich on Lucky Whitehead
The Cowboys, however, released Whitehead and cited a pattern of behavior in justifying the move.
“Completely surprised,” Rich told ESPN’s Todd Archer on Tuesday of the original report. “Everybody was, the Cowboys, Lucky, myself. That’s what drove this thing. From the first call it was a breakup tone. I’ve been broken up with before, and I know what that sounds like. It was, ‘You better have a darn good reason for this,’ and we were completely blindsided by it.”
The Prince William County Police Department said the man who was arrested didn’t have identification with him. He verbally provided the name, date of birth and Social Security number of Rodney Darnell Whitehead Jr. to police officers, who checked the information through the Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles database.
Police also compared the DMV photo on file with the man in custody and “acted in good faith that, at the time, the man in custody was the same man matching the information provided.”
“At this point, the police department is also confident in confirming that Mr. Whitehead’s identify was falsely provided to police during the investigation,” according to the statement.
The police are currently seeking the correct identity of the man arrested on June 22 for allegedly taking items from a Wawa convenience store without paying at approximately 1:30 a.m.
“Since the identifying information provided by the arrestee during the investigation was apparently false,” the statement read, “the police department is working with the Prince William County Commonwealth Attorney’s Office to clear Mr. Whitehead from this investigation.”
The Prince William County Police Department also said it “regrets the impact these events had on Mr. Whitehead and his family.”
A Cowboys source on Tuesday indicated to ESPN’s Josina Anderson that the team was not planning to rescind Whitehead’s release.
“We’ve moved on,” the source told ESPN.
The source said the Cowboys are not concerned that Whitehead will file a grievance, as their move was “dealing with ability.”
“Just time to improve the roster from an ability and team-culture standpoint,” the source said.
Asked if the Cowboys could rescind the waiver request on Whitehead, Rich said, “I don’t know that would be a healthy place for anybody right now.”
Because the Cowboys’ release came after the close of the NFL’s business day, Whitehead would not appear on the waiver wire until Tuesday, making him eligible to be claimed by another team by Wednesday afternoon.
“It’s disappointing, but it’s a tough life lesson for the young man,” Rich told Archer on Tuesday. “He’ll be fine. I’ve had three or four teams reach out to me already, and I wouldn’t be surprised if he was picked up, especially with the way rosters are right now. You can add a receiver from Long Beach State Community College or add a guy like Lucky Whitehead, who has a pretty good body of work.”
Rich said he will consult with Whitehead and Whitehead’s family over what direction to pursue next, either legally or with the NFL Players Association.
“Right now he just wants to play football,” Rich said. “He had a challenge ahead of him, and he was ready for the challenge. He was tweeting 20 minutes before the first practice how excited he was. It’s been a tough 24 hours. I think it will make him stronger.”
“We got made an example of,” Rich said. “They needed to make an example of somebody to get those boys’ heads on straight. It is calculated. But I get it. It’s business … Jason Garrett said it. They needed to do what’s in the best interest of the Cowboys. I think they’re wrong, but I get it.”
Whitehead made headlines last week when he announced on social media that his dog, Blitz, was kidnapped and being held for ransom. He later announced on social media that the dog had been returned unharmed.