|Dez Bryant pleading his case to the undrafted judge.|
I’m not sure I understand why everyone is so against Dez Bryant right now.
He had a recent explosion of emotion on the Cowboys’ sideline against the Detroit Lions, a game they lost in the last second on a 1-yard run by Lions QB Matthew Stafford.
Bryant initially appeared to be outraged at the lack of targets he received during the course of the game, which is fair enough because he did score two touchdowns on three catches on the day. But what most people assumed, mostly because of the stereotype of big personality receivers having ‘me me me’ diva attitudes, was that Dez wanted to prove a point that he made a few days before the game, saying that he could “do whatever Megatron can do”.
Of course, that ended up being untrue in 329 different ways (for non-statisticians, Calvin Johnson caught fourteen balls on the day for that number of yards, second most in a game in NFL history by a receiver).
But after hearing what he actually said on the sidelines, thanks to NFL SoundFX keeping a mic close to him, there was a strangely small amount of “I”, and a lot of “we”. It sounds like Bryant had heart and passion enough to keep reminding his team that they had to act on their immense talent, but maybe got a little too hot under the collar as an inexperienced young star on the team.
|Bryant, despite everything, was the Cowboys’ only
hope of winning against Detroit. Until they didn’t win.
Specifically, Bryant was telling Romo that “we are the best in the NFL at this”, ‘this’ being the Romo-to-Bryant connection that has oft-been a successful link in the Dallas Cowboys tumultuous offense.
The problem isn’t Bryant’s sideline antics, it’s that the media has portrayed him as just another diva receiver. I’m strongly opposed to that notion. Honestly, the Terrell Owens’s and Randy Moss’s of the NFL have ruined the image of the majority of big-play, showman pass catchers in recent years. The perceptions of DeSean Jackson, Santonio Holmes, and Greg Jennings have suffered in the face of an influx of diva receivers who want to be long-time stars for franchises to market and profit from.
And these days, players like Calvin Johnson and Arizona’s Larry Fitzgerald are heralded as rare quiet performers who do their job. Isn’t that supposed to be the norm? Hey ESPN, that IS the norm. You just don’t like it that way.
But Dez on the sideline wasn’t a guy who was angry about the lack of on-field air time he was getting, but wanted to remind everyone on his team that they aren’t down, they aren’t out, and they’re way too talented to just let the Detroit Lions take this game away from them. If he had tried to convey his message to his teammates with more positivity and less anger at the performance they were putting on the field, then we would be talking about something completely different.
Dez had a troubled past coming into the league, a big reason why, as talented as he was and still is, he dropped into Jerry Jones’ lap as the 27th pick in the 2010 draft. And he displayed those problems at the beginning of his career, Exhibit A being his arrest on a class A misdemeanor domestic violence charge for allegedly striking his mother.
|The man has gone through his share of trouble.
Why ridicule him for being a team player?
But Dez has grown considerably since then from a boy into an admirable NFL player and man. He’s been a star in the league since finally breaking out in late 2012 with disciplined practice and a five week stretch in which he scored seven touchdowns to help the Cowboys win four out of five and get a shot at the division title.
So for Dez to go off at his offense, and especially Tony Romo, this week was admittedly a little out of line, but his intentions were not. He wants the Dallas Cowboys to be great. It appears that he is ready to do whatever it takes to get this team up on its feet and fighting the way it should, and he wants to lead the charge.
There’s nothing diva-esque about that. Not at all.