Dallas Cowboys wide receiver Dez Bryant is a passionate man—you simply won’t find many to dispute that notion. He’s also productive, but that wasn’t the focus after the Cowboys lost in heartbreaking fashion last week to the Detroit Lions.
Bryant, now in his fifth season, broke out in a big way last season with 92 receptions for 1.392 yards and 12 touchdowns. He’s followed that up with an impressive showing this season as well, totaling 45 catches for 641 yards and eight touchdowns in the Cowboys’ first eight games.
In the Cowboys’ loss to the Lions, Bryant caught just three passes for 72 yards, but two of those receptions resulted in touchdowns, including a spectacular 50-yard play in which Bryant bounced off two defenders before scampering into the end zone.
But Bryant appeared to be negative on the sidelines, seen yelling at quarterback Tony Romo and tight end Jason Witten in separate instances.
Instead, it was the exact opposite.
NFL Films was gracious enough to supply audio of Bryant’s exchange with Romo, and while he was clearly animated, it can’t be construed as a tantrum on Bryant’s part. Included in the conversation is Cowboys wide receiver coach Derek Dooley.
USA Today was also gracious enough to transcribe the audio:
BRYANT: No! We can’t let them do that! These [expletive] [unclear.] They’re manning me the [expletive] up. We destroy that!
Hey — we gotta mix that [expletive] up! [Unclear, PA covers up Bryant's comments.]
They press me! [Or maybe "It's fresh meat!"] It’s over! [Unclear]
BRYANT: [Unclear] I’m cutting! I’m cutting clean.
I know on that last one, they bust me, it’s over.
[Talks with coach, unclear with stadium noise]
Man, we good on that, Tony. We the best in the NFL on that. We the best in the NFL. And I could…I’m telling you, if you look at it on film…man, if you look at it on film, [unclear] I swear to God out there, [unclear, PA announcer speaking] on the zero, I’m cutting. [Unclear] [expletive] [unclear.]
DOOLEY: Hey, what you gotta do, you gotta set it down.
ROMO: You gotta set it down.
DOOLEY: In other words, don’t look at Tony, because the safety’s coming out of the top.
BRYANT: I see that.
DOOLEY: So when you run… When you run…
ROMO: Look it. Look at me. I’m throwing the ball and you’re already over here.
ROMO: You should be setting down on that.
DOOLEY: Run like this. Don’t look at Tony and then stop, and say “Tony.”
ROMO: I don’t care [unclear] [expletive] like as soon as you’re over the ball you should tell me right now.
DOOLEY: Give it to me.
ROMO: Stop or you’re gone.
DOOLEY: It looks open, but they’re coming out of the top.
BRYANT: It did. It did. It did.
DOOLEY: I knew what you saw because they doubled Wit.
BRYANT: [Unclear] I hadn’t seen it… [Looks out on field.] Pick that [expletive] up man. C’mon…
We [expletive] good, man. We bust our ass not to win this [expletive] game.
What that essentially sounds like is a man who is passionate and badly wants his team to win. However, Bryant was forced to defend his actions following the game.
Witten jumped to Bryant’s defense, saying that his passion is welcomed on the sidelines.
“You can’t have too much passion in those situations,” Witten said. “It wasn’t about him, it was about our team. You want more guys like that. I’m not just saying that, it really is. You want guys that care and are upset.”
Original reaction to Bryant’s rant certainly seemed like a double standard. How often has New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady been praised for his animation on the sidelines? He oftentimes looks like he’s berating wide receivers and offensive linemen in certain situations, yet he’s praised for having such a passionate demeanor.
If that doesn’t qualify as a double standard, I’m not really sure what does.
Bryant is a player who doesn’t hold back, and his teammates certainly don’t seem to mind. Why should anyone else?