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
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
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?