Despite the fact that the Dallas Cowboys came within a point of winning the game against the Detroit Lions in Sunday, worked well together throughout the game and seemed to be overcoming their slump, no one is focusing on what went well, what was improved, what still needs work. The news is all about wide receiver Dez Bryant’s “meltdown” on the sidelines.
Bryant was seen “haranguing” quarterback Tony Romo, Coach Jason Garrett, and tight end Jason Witten. Most of the players on the sideline simply turned away from him, but injured player Demarcus Ware made an attempt to get Bryant away from Witten during their exchange. Coach Garrett silently shooed Bryant away from Romo.
The question is, after all the speculation, is Bryant being passionate, as owner Jerry Jones, Romo, Garrett and Witten stated in the post-game press conference or is he being petulant, as the media accuses?
To understand Bryant and gain some insight in to why his teammates and coach keep stepping up to defend him, we must first know where and what he came from.
Bryant was born Nov. 4, 1988 in Galveston County, Texas. His mother was arrested on drug charges when he was eight years old, and he lived with several different homes in Lufkin, TX where he went to the local high school.
His talent for football was apparent early, and while at Lufkin High School he helped the team to a 14-1 season, with an appearance in the 5A Division II semi-finals. In his junior year he had 48 receptions for 1025 yards and 16 touchdowns. In his senior year he had 53 catches for 207 yards and 21 touchdowns. That year he was selected to All-State and played in the Offense-Defense All-American Bowl. Bryant was also named an All-American by Parade magazine.
Listed as the No. 9 ranked wide receiver in the 2007 class, Bryant went to Oklahoma State University, where he continued to develop as a player. From 2007-2008, Bryant played under Coach Mike Gundy at OSU. In his freshman year he was ranked second with 42 catches for 622 yards and six touchdowns in 12 games.
By the end of the 2008 season Bryant had 87 receptions for 1480 yards and 19 touchdowns, 2 of which were punt returns. Because of a NCAA bylaw, he was ruled ineligible for the 209 season. Bryant failed to fully disclose details of time he spent with retired cornerback Deion Sanders. Before this suspension, Bryant was considered the best receiver in the 2009 class, and was in contention for the Heisman trophy.
Bryant entered the 2010 draft and was still thought to be the best receiver available. The Dallas Cowboys traded up to pick him 24th in the second round. Bryant debuted wearing number 88 with the Cowboys in the 2010 season and caught his first touchdown pass for 31 yards to score a touchdown.
Bryant was sued in 2011 by two jewelers who stated he took merchandise without paying for it. He was then arrested in 2012 for class A misdemeanor domestic violence charged involving his birth mother. Angela Bryant did not press the charges, and the case was dropped.
Which brings us to the present time. Obviously Bryant is a highly excitable young man, but most young men with the drive and talent he possesses are. Transcripts and audio of the sideline exchanges from Sunday have borne out with Bryant hoarsely stated after the game, “My passion is always positive.”
Bryant was not being a prima donna demanding the ball. He was not accusing his teammates of poor play. He was not ranting or throwing a temper tantrum. He was not being the “diva” that the press was so quick to call him.
He was discussing-very animatedly- how the Cowboys could pull out a win against the Lions. He was going over how he and Romo are the “the best” at making contact on passes. He was being passionate.
After his history of dubious behavior, one can almost understand how the media can mistake a passionate discourse for an argumentative interaction. Bryant’s body language and the reactions of those around him made it easy to misinterpret the conversation and assume the worst. Bryant is a gifted talent and a rising leader whose only concern was helping his team win the game. Given the true nature of the exchange however, it begs the question of just who should be in the cross-hairs, Bryant, or the media.
By: Brandi Tasby