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Dez Dilemma: Great Player With Bad Personality

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    NEWSLETTERS

    Dallas Cowboys' wide receiver Dez Bryant defends his demeanor on the sidelines during the game saying he's got passion. For more, visit NFL.com and DallasCowboys.com.

    Look, when your defense surrenders franchise records for yards (623) and fourth-quarter points (24) while allowing the second-biggest receiving day in NFL history and one of your best offensive lineman commits a holding penalty that helps you blow a late lead, you’ve got bigger problems. But the Dez Dilemma needs to be nipped in the bud. If it’s not already too late.

    My fear with Dez Bryant is that he simultaneously improves/deteriorates into Terrell Owens: A player good enough to carry a team; A personality bad enough to rip it apart.

    I understand Bryant being upset during Sunday’s heart-breaking, come-from-ahead loss to the Detroit Lions. His reasoning was valid. But the manner in which he displayed his frustration and totally lost control of his emotion was inexcusable.

    The Cowboys should be roundly criticized for only throwing six passes to No. 88. Calvin Johnson got 16. Dez has a point. The more he gets the ball the better his team’s chances of winning. That said, demonstratively yelling at coaches and teammates is unprofessional and unacceptable.

    There’s a way to exhibit productive “passion” but, um, that ain’t it.

    Ranting on the sideline is tolerable to a point. But I’d rather have Bryant calmly sit down on the bench next to Tony Romo and talk about what they’re seeing, look at the defensive photos and adjust accordingly. But when some folks lack the skill of clear, concise communication, they resort to yelling and gesturing in an attempt to make their point. Of course, it comes across as a sign of disrespect or a “showing up” of a teammate.

    Bryant’s boorish body language indicated that he thinks he’s smarter than the coaches, and that he somehow cares more than his teammates. Insulting.

    I didn’t like it when Romo was animated on the field in his pointing out that Phillip Tanner blew a route against the Eagles. And I think we all cringed when Bryant stalked the sideline, barking at receivers coach Derek Dooley, head coach Jason Garrett, quarterbacks coach Wade Wilson and Romo.

    After the game Dez attempted to justify his behavior:

    “I just honestly feel like you have to have that passion, you have to have that passion, to even be in games like this,” he told reporters in the locker room. “And take it over the top to winning games like this. I feel like if you’re just out there, you know with a mediocre attitude, you’re going to get blown out.”

    No, Dez, at no time was your team getting blown out in Detroit. In fact, there was still a glimmer of hope when you quit.

    There’s a line between “passion” and “selfishness”, and Dez pouted all over it.

    Down one point with 12 seconds remaining and about to receive a kickoff, the Cowboys were on the sideline attempting to draw a miracle in the dirt. Romo and Garrett and Jason Witten huddled to mull their extremely limited options, but Dez was having none of it. Refused to be a part of it as if to say “You haven’t thrown me the ball all day, so I’m not going to listen to you now.” As Witten approached to persuade him to join the impromptu think tank, Dez selfishly screamed and adamantly flailed his arms like a 1-year-old without his pacifier.

    When you have to be corralled and disciplined by Witten and DeMarcus Ware (veteran team captains with a combined 20 years of NFL experience) and when you’re no longer a solution to your team’s problems, then – congrats – you’re officially a distraction. The Cowboys will smartly say all the right things in front of the cameras. But behind closed doors this could be a major problem. You know it, and so do the Cowboys. It's why Garrett pulled Bryant into a private room after Sunday's loss. Dez's behavior, his passion and, yes, his temper were all broached in that discussion.  

    This wasn’t Michael Irvin passionately prodding his team’s performance. This was T.O. complaining about his individual results.

    Dez Bryant can split a double-team. But, if not kept in check right now, he can also divide a locker room.

    A native Texan who was born in Duncanville and graduated from UT-Arlington, Richie Whitt has been a mainstay in the Metroplex media since 1986. He’s held prominent roles on all media platforms including newspaper (Fort Worth Star-Telegram, Dallas Observer), radio (105.3 The Fan) and TV (co-host on TXA 21 and numerous guest appearances, including NBC 5). He currently writes a sports/guy stuff blog at DFWSportatorium.com and lives in McKinney with his fiancee, Sybil, and two very spoiled dogs.