Keeping Dez Bryant focused, healthy and productive on the field has not always been easy for the Cowboys.
Keeping him from making embarrassing headlines off of it has been almost impossible. That's led the team to try a new path toward getting the most out of the enormously talented but erratic wide receiver they drafted in the first round of the 2010 draft.
Calvin Watkins of ESPNDallas.com broke the news over the weekend that Bryant and the Cowboys had agreed to a series of guidelines for his behavior away from the field that went into effect on Aug. 23. The rules bar Bryant from drinking alcohol or visiting strip clubs and include a midnight curfew unless the Cowboys are informed in advance that he'll be out later.
Bryant will also attend two counseling sessions a week and he'll have a rotating security team of three men who will protect him and transport him to practices, games and anywhere else that doesn't include women removing their clothing for money. There's no word on whether or not Bryant will be allowed to have dessert if he doesn't finish his lima beans, but Jerry Jones is allowed to ask Bryant "If your friends all jumped off the Brooklyn Bridge, would you do it too?" four times this season.
We kid on those last two notes because, frankly, it's ridiculous that an adult needs babysitters in order to make it through a day without incident. That doesn't mean it isn't a smart move by the Cowboys.
Bryant's crucial to anything the team hopes to accomplish this season and making sure that he doesn't jeopardize his availability by doing something stupid away from the field makes too much sense for Jones not to do it. Having said that, you don't need to look that far into the past to see that all the good intentions in the world are useless when someone is determined to destroy their career.
The Cowboys tried this with Pacman Jones and then watched as he got in a fight with his team-appointed bodyguard. That led to another suspension from the league and a quick end to Pacman fever in Dallas, and there are plenty of other cautionary tales around the NFL of players who kept screwing up long after it was clear that screwing up was a ticket out of the league.
There are still questions about just how kosher this kind of setup might be under the Collective Bargaining Agreement, but the issue isn't going to be whether or not the Cowboys are able to enforce these rules. The issue is whether Bryant is willing to follow them because the ultimate success or failure of this approach and his entire career is squarely in his hands.