Dez Bryant #88 of the Dallas Cowboys walks on the field before the game. (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
Dez Bryant knows about Emmitt Smith. Just not about his rule.
Once upon a dynasty, Smith celebrated his numerous rushing touchdowns by taking off his helmet in the end zone. Worried that it was escalating taunting, the NFL in 1997 instituted a rule that players would be penalized for removing their helmets at any time other than timeouts.
The Emmitt Smith Rule was born.
But last Sunday at AT&T Stadium Bryant began arguing an offensive pass interference penalty when he attempted to punctuate his point by removing his helmet and … Unsportsmanlike conduct on the offense, No. 88, 15 yards for removing your helmet.
"That's the Emmitt Smith rule," owner Jerry Jones said today on his weekly radio show. "The Dallas Cowboys players should know that one better than any team in the league. When players don't know rules, that's a joint fault of coaching as well as the players."
In the post-game locker room, Bryant claimed ignorance of the rule. Hard to believe the receiver has - as a football fan - been watching the NFL the last 15 years without ever seeing a player penalized for yanking off a helmet, and taking at least a mental note.
"I grew up a huge Cowboys fan," he said. "But I must've missed that game."
After Tony Romo sorta-playfully shoved Bryant toward the sideline after the penalty and after being alerted to the rule by the media, Bryant offered a sheepish apology.
"I learned my lesson," he said. "All I know is, next time I'll know better."
Look, this has already been a crazy season. The Cowboys have lost a game in which they were +4 in turnovers and they've won a game in which they only attempted nine running plays.
But a star player not knowing the rule named after his franchise’s biggest all-time star?
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.