'Dez rules' window dressing for Cowboys

Dez Bryant has never really grown up, and Cowboys' new guidelines won't help.

The Dallas Cowboys are treating wide receiver Dez Bryant like a child because he's given them every reason to do so. In an attempt to keep Bryant from being suspended by NFL commissioner Roger Goodell and to try to maximize his freakish talent, the Cowboys have implemented a set of rules that will govern his every off-the-field move.

According to reports, the wide receiver will be monitored around-the-clock by a three-man security detail that will drive him to practices, team functions and games. He'll have a midnight curfew and he's forbidden to drink alcohol. And the Cowboys also had the gall to ban Bryant from visiting strip clubs, even if he's only stopping by to enjoy a noon buffet. He can only show up at nightclubs that are approved by the team.

And you have to love the thought of Cowboys owner/general manager Jerry Jones sitting down to come up with a list of approved clubs. In reality, I'm a bit surprised that Jones is going down this path again with a wayward player. Former cornerback Pacman Jones famously got into a fight with a member of his security detail at a downtown Dallas hotel, forcing Jerry to immediately scrap that plan.

To me, the Bryant plan looks like window-dressing. It's a way for the Cowboys owner to back up all his recent tough talk regarding Bryant. And it will likely satisfy Goodell that the Cowboys are going above and beyond in response to Bryant being arrested and charged last month for family violence stemming from an incident with his mother, Angela.

One aspect of the so-called "Dez rules" that bothers me is that David Wells, a prominent former Dallas bail bondsman, is being empowered to hire the three-man security detail. The Cowboys employ one of the nation's foremost security experts in Larry Wansley, so it doesn't make a lot of sense for them to ask someone from outside the organization to make such important hires.

I've known Wells for a few years now and I believe he does have Bryant's best interest in mind. Perhaps without Wells in his life, Bryant would already be out of the league.


But it's just embarrassing to listen to Jones and head coach Jason Garrett tout their player-assistance program as one of the league's best while relying so heavily on someone from outside the organization to monitor Bryant. In recent weeks, a Cowboys source told me that assigning a 24-hour security detail to Bryant wouldn't accomplish anything. The thought is that it would only further stunt his growth as an adult.

But right now the Cowboys are simply trying to tap into Bryant's immense potential for a few seasons. If he was 30 and had declining skills, do you think they would ever bother with a security detail? Not in a million years.

Jerry doesn't want to leave a stone unturned in trying to help Bryant become an elite receiver. It's been reported that Bryant is very receptive to this new arrangement. I heard former Browns head coach Eric Mangini say on ESPN that the Cowboys wide receiver should be applauded for signing off on the plan. But we all know that's a crock since Bryant didn't have any say in the matter.

My guess is that Jones has explained to him that the strict guidelines are in place to appease the league. It allows Jones to continue to play the tough-guy role while seeing if Bryant can take the next step as a player.

Jerry already knows there's a good chance the rules won't work. But at least he's given himself the ability to say the Cowboys exhausted all their resources in trying to protect their investment. Garrett was asked about the new guidelines while meeting with reporters Monday.

"The balance with all is you want to support them and you want to help them but you also want to hold them accountable," said Garrett. "We feel like we do that throughout our organization, with all our guys. We believe in player development and we believe in helping them as football players on the field and as people off the field. What we've tried to do is come up with a plan for Dez, like we would for any player who we feel like needs our support and help him be his best as a player and as a person. And the accountability factor is an important part of that with him and with anybody on our football team."

But it's disingenuous to suggest Bryant is like anyone else on the Cowboys' roster. Because of his rare ability on the football field, Bryant has been enabled by coaches and administrators at every level of his young career. And the new guidelines will only continue the cycle.

Bryant's never really grown up. And part of that is because no one's ever asked him to.

But who knows. Maybe this strip club ban will get things turned around.

Isn't that how most people turn their careers around?