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When the camera cut to Dez Bryant throwing a childish tantrum on the bench during the Thanksgiving Day loss, it wasn't hard to think back to another recent Cowboys receiver who made headlines for the way he conducted himself off the field.
Drew Pearson made the connection for anyone who had successfully blocked Terrell Owens from their minds, although we imagine only those engaged in heavy therapy have been able to achieve that blissful state of mind. Pearson called out Bryant for engaging in T.O.-style behavior and slammed the rookie for putting himself before the rest of the team.
Hard to argue with that second point, but there seem to be some serious differences between what happened with Bryant and what used to happen with Owens. First and foremost, the thing that set Bryant off appeared to be a holding call that wiped out a big Marion Barber run. That doesn't make it okay to lose control of your emotions, but it is far different than pitching a fit on the sideline because the entire offense isn't running through you.
For the sake of argument, let's say that Bryant was peeved about the fact that he was on his way to getting shut out for the first time as a pro. You might not like the way he handled it, but can you really argue with the sentiment? Bryant was targeted a handful of times during the game and Jon Kitna never threw a ball that could be reasonably described as catchable. On a day when a major reason the Cowboys lost was their inability to make big plays on offense, it seems reasonable that Bryant, a man capable of making those big plays, would find the lack of productivity to be a problem.
Not enough of a problem to stop blocking downfield, as evidenced by the penalty, or stop playing hard, however. That's a pretty significant difference from the way Owens used to do things. Bryant didn't quit on his team and he didn't stop giving maximum effort because things weren't playing out just the way he hoped.
He also didn't rush to the nearest microphone after the game to accuse his teammates of conspiring against him or lob grenades at his quarterback. He didn't say a thing to reporters at all, which might indicate he had some negative thoughts but at least it says that he was smart enough to avoid letting everyone know that he was feeling down in the dumps. Someone solely focused on the individual, someone like T.O. in other words, isn't capable of making that kind of decision.
For the two weeks before the Saints game, everyone was falling all over themselves to praise the Cowboys for showing so much emotion and passion during their two wins. The thing about flashing those things is that there's another side that reared its head when Bryant went off on the sideline. It is incredibly hard to have one without the other, and fire is certainly preferable to the kind of apathy we witnessed for the first half of this season.
Things happen in the heat of battle and sometimes those things are ugly. They only become a problem when they are allowed to linger or are expanded when cooler heads mean that any negativity is calculated instead of being a result of frustration. That, and not the kind of sideline fireworks we also saw from Michael Irvin, is why T.O. became such a problematic figure.
Don't put that on Dez unless he deserves it.
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