Dez Bryant is one of the NFL’s best receivers, and one of the top players to come out of the 2010 NFL Draft. In a draft with names like Sam Bradford, Ndamukong Suh, Jason Pierre-Paul and Demaryius Thomas, Bryant stacked up quite well. Yet Bryant was chosen after all of them.
This probably isn’t because of his collegiate offensive production. Though he was suspended for most of his junior season, Bryant caught 87 passes for 1,480 yards and 19 touchdowns in 2008. He was the best receiver on the 2010 draft board.
Bryant fell to the Dallas Cowboys at 24 because of his off-the-field problems. Reports suggested it was difficult to get him to go to class, and he lied to NCAA investigators after meeting Deion Sanders in Texas. The investigators believed Bryant may have been trying to get an agent, but the only thing they could pin on Bryant was the lie.
The Cowboys took a chance on him and the rest, as they say, is history.
That’s not to say he hasn’t had his problems since arriving in Big D. Three years ago, Bryant was issued a criminal trespassing warning from NorthPark Mall after a confrontation with police officers when they requested that he pull his pants up.
That apparently was not his first run-in with NorthPark security. The police report noted a “major disturbance” at a NorthPark restaurant, cutting in line at the Apple store and a parking violation.
More infamous was Bryant’s alleged domestic abuse. In the summer of 2012 Bryant was arrested and charged with misdemeanor family violence after reportedly hitting his mother and pulling her hair.
All this is to say that when Calvin Watkins reported this week that Bryant is living under some pretty tough rules, it was easy to see how he has avoided trouble since that time. Bryant walked away from the abuse case with no legal punishment as long as he a) attended counseling sessions and b) stayed out of trouble for one year.
Before the 2012 season began, the Cowboys added some strict rules of conduct to Bryant’s contract, rules that Bryant is still living under today. They include:
· A midnight curfew
· No alcohol
· No strip clubs and only team-approved night clubs
· Counseling sessions twice a week
· And a rotating three-man security team that drives Bryant to all practices, games and team meetings.
It’s easy to condemn such extreme measures, but in fact they’ve probably contributed as much to Bryant’s on-field success as they have his quiet offseasons.
2012 and 2013 have been by far Bryant’s best seasons, earning him a Pro Bowl bid last year and finally seeing him live up to his potential as one of the NFL’s most powerful receivers.
His biggest issues in 2013 were a sideline argument with Jason Witten, yelling at Tony Romo and leaving the field before time expired on the horrifying Packers loss in Week 15. It wasn’t always pretty, but it was a big step up from offseason assaults and belligerent behavior.
Bryant wasn’t happy when Watkins reported his rules, and understandably so. But they help explain Bryant’s emergence as a top NFL receiver, and it’s hard to say where he would be without them.
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