But That’s Probably Why Teammates Get a Pass from the Media and He Doesn’t
By Lance Rinker
Let’s make one thing clear, as abundantly clear as Dallas Cowboys star wide receiver Dez Bryant makes it in many of his post-game locker room roundtables.
Dez Bryant doesn’t give a fuck what anyone thinks about him.
Not how he performs on the field. Not how he behaves or doesn’t behave on the sidelines. Not how he conducts post-game discussions with members of the media in the locker room.
There is one other thing we know, other than Bryant’s feelings toward what is printed or said about him, and it’s that many members of the media love to blast the guy for just that.
If he’s showing passion on the sidelines during the game, he’s then unceremoniously blasted on social media and news sites as being a disruption and immature. If he’s giving an uncensored version of the thoughts actually running through his head when asked a question by a reporter, he’s then all of a sudden some cancer in the locker room.
Is it because certain people have a predisposition to view Bryant negatively when he’s showing passion for his career on the sidelines during a game? Is the issue that he’s black and there’s a stereotype that white America has a tendency to view black men as “angry black men” if they show any sort of anger, frustration, or any of those other potentially scary emotions?
Bryant provided some very NSFW thoughts about how he’s viewed and portrayed after the Cowboys 41-28 victory over the Chicago Bears on Dec. 4.
“Fuck no, I do not care. Because I know I’m not
doing anything wrong. They don’t know what’s
going on. I can’t care less. They ain’t on no
sidelines. Nobody’s on the sidelines with us. The
only thing they’re waiting for us to do is take an
L and they can talk a bunch of shit about us. ‘Oh,
the same ‘ol Cowboys in December.’ C’mon man.
Ain’t none of that. We’re going to take advantage
of what we need to take advantage of. I don’t
give a fuck who films it. That’s the truth. That’s
the truth. That’s how I feel. As long as we get the
W, that’s all that matters. Put that shit down. You
don’t have to put the little – what you do, put the
little stars by it. Put my whole cuss words in there.
I meant that.”
During that game, cameras caught a visibly unhappy Bryant coming off the field late in the fourth quarter after Tony Romo handed the ball off to DeMarco Murray four consecutive times on the team’s next-to-last drive.
Those four running plays failed to lead to a touchdown, though the team was on the Bears’ 9-yard line when all four runs were called. Murray failed to pick up the first down and the Cowboys had to settle on a field goal.
Bryant was seen yelling and flailing his arms about as he paced up and down the sideline after the play. This behavior isn’t unusual for Bryant, as he rarely sits still on the bench when the defense is on the field.
Social media blew up with fans calling Bryant out for being selfish, a cry baby and a range of other things that their mothers probably wouldn’t be too proud about. While the knee-jerkism experienced against those who root against Bryant or the Cowboys suggested Bryant was mad about the play call(s), or mad about being targeted just once in the second half of that game, the reality of the situation was vastly different.
After that game against the Bears, Bryant told reporters his public display of passion had nothing to do with what people automatically assumed.
“Fuck no,” Bryant said. “Anybody will tell you in this locker room, it’s an unselfish mind-set. That’s what we’re creating up in here.”
Cowboys owner and general manager Jerry Jones didn’t meet with reporters following that victory against the Bears, but he did address the hoopla surrounding Bryant the following morning in a radio interview with 105.3 The Fan (KRLD-FM).
“He’s a teddy bear,” Jones said. “I’m going to tell you one thing, he’s got a passion. There’s just no stopping it. You just can’t calm him down when he gets going. He uses a lot of energy doing that. That’s his passion. And this team uses some of that passion. It’s not a negative thing.”
If Jones doesn’t view Bryant’s displays of passion as an issue and if his teammates are all in his corner and know there are frequent misconceptions about Bryant, then why do a segment of football fans and some members of the media view it just the opposite?
Aside from underlying feelings of racism or a negative mindset towards what one may perceive to be the “angry black man,” the predominant reason is that it makes for great water cooler talk and great headlines in print and online.
That takes me back to a question I ask myself constantly.
If Bryant is such a distraction and isn’t passionate about the game when he’s getting loud or animated then how is Jason Witten getting a pass from fans and media for doing the same things Bryant has from time to time?
Witten was caught on camera furious his Cowboys were losing to the Philadelphia Eagles at home on Thanksgiving, and he let one of the team’s assistant coaches know about it.
At two points during the broadcast, Witten was shown being animated with tight ends coach Mike Pope. One instance occurred after the Cowboys recovered a fumble, down 23-7, and only managed a field goal. If you are even halfway decent at reading lips, it could easily have been inferred that Witten was pissed off about not being able to get open and get the ball thrown his way. Then again, he could also have been irritated with the play calling in general.
Former Cowboys great and National Football League Hall of Famer Deion Sanders took the opportunity to point out the difference in the way the outbursts of Witten and Bryant are perceived on Twitter:
“Also funny that Witten went off on the sidelines about the ball and ain’t nobody said nothing.
#Truth” Sanders has said multiple times in the past that he enjoys the passion that Bryant displays on and off the field and doesn’t view it as an issue.
However, former Cowboys wide receiver Terrell Owens said he wonders if race has created a double standard when comparing sideline outbursts between Bryant and other players around the league, like New England quarterback Tom Brady.
“I don’t want to say it, but I do wonder if race plays a part in the double standard. Why is Brady treated one way, and Dez another?” Owens told Bleacher Report columnist Mike Freeman. “Why is Tom Brady showing passion when he screams at players, but Dez is out of control?”
When Bryant’s emotional outbursts are witnessed, they often are interpreted as being negative, or a star receiver complaining about not getting the ball.
In a radio interview Romo did on 105.3 The Fan, he said Bryant isn’t malicious, or being the least bit selfish – though perception through the lens of the fan or member of the media is different.
“He’s not sitting there trying to show that it’s about him,” Romo said. “There’s no big deceitful kind of motive behind it. He’s actually a big team guy. When he does it, he gets animated. It’s mostly just passion coming out. It doesn’t come across negative to the rest of the guys because you’re around him so much.”
Romo went on to say Bryant’s sideline behavior comes across as him being emotional, excited and ready to help the team make a big play or finish off a win. Romo said one of Bryant’s great qualities is he has the ability to help get his teammates going with his passion.
“He’s a passionate, emotional player and he gets that way during games,” Romo continued. “If you listen to the NFL Films on it, you’ll understand real quick that he’s yelling, but he’s also saying, ‘We’re the best! Let’s go! Here we are! Me and you guys! Now and forever!’ It’s comical that it’s all negative and weird to other people.”
Don’t doubt for one second that Bryant wants to win, and win badly. When shit hits the fan during a game, he’s not sitting on his hands and hoping someone else steps up and tries to light a fire under his team. It’s a quality possessed by some of the all-time greats if you ask me. Better yet, some of those all-time greats have already weighed in and said people need to chill when it comes to criticizing Bryant.
It seems Bryant being passionate on the sidelines is only an issue for those he won’t cater to in pre or post-game interviews and be best buddies with to make them feel special. Not to mention the average white person who has this image of the angry black man in mind when he’s doing exactly what Witten, Brady and other white super athletes do on the field and on the sidelines.