Since the day he signed that $70 million contract on July 15 Dez Bryant has been stealing money.
After establishing himself as one of the best receivers in the NFL last season, most tabbed him for another Pro Bowl season of 80+ catches, 10+ touchdowns and lots of defensive attention. Instead, his personal season – hard as it is to believe – has been even more disappointing than his 3-8 team’s nightmare.
The timeline of Bryant’s season has included injury, another injury, sideline rant, touchdown catches (all two of them), monkey, locker-room outburst, dropped passes and, most revolting, hubris over hustle. For a captain, team leader and one of the passionate and talented players in the league, his actions early in the Thanksgiving loss to the Panthers were inexcusable.
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Leaders don’t put their individual agendas over team goals. Leaders don’t allow emotions to lead to shirked responsibility. And, no, leaders do not quit.
On the Cowboys’ first possession Tony Romo was picked off by Panthers’ safety Kurt Coleman at Dallas’ 36. As he zigged and zagged his way across the field and would-be Dallas tacklers, we all screamed “Somebody tackle him!” But that “somebody” wasn’t going to be Bryant.
Because the Cowboys’ $70 million receiver had given up on the play and turned his focus and energy to exchanging facemask-to-facemask verbal barbs with Carolina cornerback Josh Norman. Yep, instead of hustling back to track down Coleman and perhaps save his team four points, Bryant made the selfish, inexplicable decision that it was better to trash-talk for his pride than tackle for his team.
I’m obviously not saying Bryant’s play helped decide the game. The Panthers were clearly the better the team. But it just further evidenced that how everything has spiraled out of control for this Cowboys’ season.
And from his hamstring troubles in training camp to the broken foot to a season in which he’s had more drops than touchdowns, Bryant is certainly as culpable as any Cowboy. I’m hearing his critics already chirping “see what happens now that Dez got paid!” And, until he proves otherwise, it’s a difficult point to debate.
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 lives in McKinney with his wife, Sybil, and two very spoiled dogs.