Bryant’s latest outburst nearly costs Cowboys

ARLINGTON, Texas — After spending a week defending his emotional outbursts, Cowboys receiver Dez Bryant had another one Sunday. This time it hurt his team.

Bryant was flagged for unsportsmanlike conduct late in the third quarter of the game against the Vikings. Bryant was arguing with the officials about being flagged for offensive pass interference when he took off his helmet.

Removing his headgear resulted in a 15-yard penalty (the Vikings declined the interference penalty) and took the Cowboys out of field goal range. Later, the Cowboys had to rally for a last-minute touchdown to win, 27-23.

Bryant later said he didn’t know it was against the rules for a player to remove his helmet on the field.

“Whenever I took my helmet off, I didn’t know that that was the thing, you know, and I was kind of shocked,” Bryant said. “I know now not to take my helmet off.”

The helmet rule has been in effect since 1997. In fact, it’s named for former Dallas Cowboys star Emmitt Smith, who had a habit of removing his helmet, especially after touchdowns.

Last week in Detroit, television cameras caught Bryant in the middle of a couple of animated moments on the sidelines. Bryant and other members of the Cowboys defended him, saying the rants were positive and merely reflective of his passion for the game.

Bryant took a similar stance in explaining his latest outburst. He said his reaction was one of surprise that the interference penalty went against him instead of the Vikings cornerback covering him.

“If you go back and look at the play you’ll see, you know, I’m shocked. I’m confused,” Bryant said. “You know, not mad.”

Follow Keith Whitmire on Twitter: @Keith_Whitmire