If the rest of Dez Bryant's Cowboys career is anything like the first few months, we're all going to be mighty sick of stories about him by his third season.
The shoulder pad imbroglio of the preseason dragged on and on, causing some people to choose between hating either entitled rookies or contemptous veterans while others gave ponderous lectures about hazing in football. Then came his sprained ankle and the extended debate it spurred about how hard the Cowboys were working in training camp. And, now, we've got the biggest story of them all thanks to the now infamous $55,000 dinner Dez bought his teammates on Monday night.
Is it a ridiculous amount of money to spend on a meal? Of course. Bryant got taken and he got taken big by his teammates and he certainly should have just carried the damn pads in the first place. But is it something worthy of hysterical reactions that make it seem like the Cowboys have attempted to revive the Tuskeegee syphillis experiment? Depends on who you ask.
Peter King of Sports Illustrated and NBC thinks that it is. He called it "disgusting in all ways," which is a perfectly valid viewpoint if you didn't do that the day after writing a loving welcome back note to Ben Roethlisberger. Dan Wetzel of Yahoo! Sports seemed more measured as he admitted that the Bryant story is mostly a humorous little nothing, but then inflated its worth by saying that this dinner will wind up hurting NFL players at the labor negotiating table after this season.
It might not make NFL players seem particularly in touch with people making less in a year than Bryant spent on that dinner, but didn't that horse leave the barn quite a while ago? Wetzel compares the dinner to gaffes made by George H.W. Bush and Al Gore on the campaign trail before losing elections which seems reasonable for the millisecond it takes to realize that the American public doesn't have a vote in the NFL's Collective Bargaining Agreement. Might they lose the public relations battle to the owners? Sure, but the only way that matters is if they stop watching and spending money on football which hurts everyone. Even if the Cowboys replace the toilet paper in their locker room with $100 bills, people are still going to be into football.
Give Wetzel credit, though. He's found a way to make guys who sell ridiculously overpriced personal seat licenses to their publicly financed stadiums into the heroes. That's not easy to do.
Let's get a little perspective here. Between signing bonus and salary, Dez Bryant makes in excess of $2.8 million this season. That dinner check amounts to a little less than two percent of that figure. Would you be raising hell if you heard that someone who makes $55,000 a year spent $1,100 on something? Something like a computer or a flat screen TV or a vacation with the family?
Thankfully, we still have one voice of reason out there. Wade Phillips was asked to weigh in on the Pappas Bros. affair -- by the way, some nice free marketing for those brothers, huh? -- and said that he didn't have any problem with it. We may not agree with anything else Phillips says or does for the rest of the season, but he's dead right on this point.
The NFL is overloaded with players who have criminal records. There are players abusing drugs, be they recreational or performance enhancing. The league has to be dragged kicking and screaming to a place where they take head injuries seriously and still do everything they can to avoid helping out the players who broke their bodies to build the league. Yet there are people who care deeply about football who think that one blowout dinner is a real problem? Maybe it isn't the players who have lost touch after all.
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