So much for the Dallas Cowboys cleaning up their off-the-field image. The problem this time, however, wasn’t with a player.
Coach Barry Switzer was arrested Monday after a loaded revolver was discovered in his carry-on baggage at Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport.
Switzer was detained, his .38-caliber weapon was confiscated, and he was released 2 hours later on his own recognizance, said an airport spokeswoman.
Switzer, after returning to Austin to join the team at training camp, said he had inadvertently left the gun in his travel bag after putting it there with the intention of hiding it from three young children who were guests at his home last weekend.
“I am embarrassed for (Dallas owner) Jerry Jones and the Cowboys organization for an innocent, honest mistake that I made,” Switzer said at a previously scheduled news conference.
He was clearly shaken by the incident and refused to take any questions.
Cowboys spokesman Brett Daniels said Jones was tied up in meetings in Dallas and was unavailable for comment.
“It’s unfortunate. It’s embarrassing to me,” Switzer said. “But I can live with it because I was more concerned about the safety of those children. If I have to live with what happened, I’ll live with that because I’d damn sure rather have that than those kids get a hold of it.”
Carrying a weapon into an airport is a third-degree felony, punishable by two to 10 years in jail and up to a $10,000 fine.
The Texas Department of Public Safety said Switzer is not licensed to carry a gun. State law says carrying a handgun without a permit is a Class A misdemeanor, punishable by up to a year in jail and a $4,000 fine.
“There was no criminal intent,” airport spokeswoman Angel Biasatti said, pointing out that 38 handguns have been confiscated at the airport this year. “We have to arrest individuals. It’s the law. Most of the time they forget that they have them at the airport. … It’s an unfortunate situation for Barry Switzer.”
Switzer said his son, Doug, had been in his Dallas-area home and left the gun lying out on his bed.
Switzer said the children, ages 11, 10 and 2, were in his house when he arrived because his daughter, Kathy, let them in.
He said he was alarmed to find the gun out and put it in his travel bag with the intention of hiding it in his closet to keep it away from the children.
“On the way to the closet, the phone rang in the bathroom and I set my bag down on my bathroom counter,” Switzer said. “From that moment on, I totally forgot my intentions of hiding the gun in the closet.”
Switzer said he rushed to the airport Monday morning to catch a flight and put the bag through the airport security.
After a delay, Switzer said, “I look up and there’s two police officers standing beside me. I look at them and they look at me with a serious look, and all of a sudden I realized, ‘My God, I didn’t take that pistol out of my bag.’ That’s what happened.”
Switzer said the police “were professional and courteous and I returned the same. It’s unfortunate. I can see how those things happen to many people.”
He was arrested around 9 a.m. and released at 10:45 a.m.