Is Dallas Cowboys Wide Receiver Dez Bryant Living Up To His Bad Reputation?
Before he even started his NFL career, Dallas Cowboys wide receiver Dez Bryant was listed as a guy with “character issues.” And because you never really get a second chance to make a first impression, that’s the reputation that he was forced to carry with him when he made his debut as an NFL rookie last season.
Fair or not, Bryant deserved the bad rap he’d gotten, too. While playing at Oklahoma State University, Bryant got suspended for most of his final season after he lied to the NCAA about meeting with Deion Sanders to discuss his future. That single lie snowballed for Bryant and eventually ended in him slipping to the end of the 2010 NFL Draft, rather than the top-10 projection he would have enjoyed without the NCAA infraction. But he kept his nose clean last season, played well for the ‘Boys before suffering an injury that kept him out for the majority of the end of the year, and was one of the lone bright spots on a team that was played awful for most of the 2010 campaign.
An NFL lockout notwithstanding, 2011 was supposed to be the year that saw Bryant take a huge step into the upper echelon of the NFL. Healed from injury and ready to make a major impact on the field for a good football team, Bryant seemed poised to make a run at his first Pro Bowl. But in the last week, Bryant has come dangerously close to ruining his reputation forever.
First, there was an incident at a mall in Dallas last week. An off-duty police officer reportedly asked Bryant and a group of his friends to pull their sagging pants up in order to stop exposing their underwear to other patrons at the mall. However, Bryant refused to do so and allegedly cursed at the cop, who eventually escorted the group off the premises and gave Bryant a criminal trespassing warning that forces him to stay away from the mall for the foreseeable future. Then, Bryant’s former mentor Sanders spoke out against him—telling ESPN Dallas that he told the Cowboys he was a problem last summer and revealing that he hadn’t talked to Bryant in months. And, most recently, a lawsuit for almost $250,000 was filed against Bryant by a jeweler who claims he was never paid for his services.
So: Which Dez Bryant is the real one?! The one who worked so hard to try and clear his name after all the problems he faced at Oklahoma State—or the one that’s suddenly slipped into a sea of trouble thanks to some poor decisions recently? Which Bryant is going to reemerge next season? And is he going to be focused on football or trying to clear his name in court and serving as little more than another distraction that the Cowboys don’t need?
What looked like a very promising year for Bryant now has a much different feel to it. He’ll no longer be trying to prove that he can play football at a high level. He’ll be trying to prove that he can play football without letting his personal demons in the way. He’ll be trying to keep his personal life together while working towards a Pro Bowl on the field. He’ll be doing everything that he can to make sure that his reputation doesn’t precede him anymore.
It’s not going to be easy to do. Bryant has two and a half strikes against him at this point and if he messes up one more time, it’ll be hard to discredit the evaluation that Sanders has given the young man. So, the choice is yours, Dez. What’s it gonna be?