OXNARD, Calif. –– The anatomy of a non-story begins on a lazy Monday afternoon in Oxnard training camp. It’s a day off for Dallas Cowboys players, a day so loose and free that the football-centric Dez Bryant — the burgeoning superstar receiver who is working with the team on a contract extension – hits golf balls in the afternoon.
But before he takes a swing with his driver, Dez tees off on Twitter:
I would rather you say I don't want to pay you what you deserve instead of saying I'm not a top 5 wr in this league lol so disrespectful
Cowboys Nation wastes no time in getting its collective panties in a wad. It’s "Dez being selfish." It’s "Jerry’s fault." It’s "Dez clearly wants out of Dallas ’cause he is being disrespected in contract negotiations with the Cowboys, who have the nerve to tell him he is not a top-five receiver."
Problem: None of those things necessarily happened or are true.
Within six minutes of the Bryant tweet, I am in communication with Cowboys COO Stephen Jones. I bring up "ruffled feathers" in contract negotiations, and he says he has no idea what I am talking about.
Within seven minutes of the Bryant tweet, 105.3 The Fan radio host Ben Rogers is on the phone with him at the driving range.
"I saw it in an article," Bryant tells Rogers, clarifying that this "not-top-five receiver" thought isn’t at all reflective of something that is happening in contract negotiations.
In fact, despite speculation that the off day makes it a natural time for Bryant and owner Jerry Jones to meet, at this moment Jones is not on the team’s campus and Bryant is down the street hitting golf balls (poorly, I might add.)
The genesis of Bryant’s ire? He says it was a video piece posted by Bleacher Report in which a reporter suggests that Dallas does not view Dez as "top-five" … followed by the reporter suggesting that the Cowboys certainly are taking that position in negotiations.
There is a conceivable nugget of truth in there somewhere; Dallas would love to get Bryant extended at below the $16 million-a-year price tags of the likes of Calvin Johnson and Larry Fitzgerald. (And somebody in the organization may have expressed that to a reporter in a clumsy and foolish manner.) Meanwhile, you would be wise to assume the Bryant camp is pooh-poohing any notion that he belongs in Brandon Marshall’s $10 million-a-year range. But there is no evidence that the "top-five" concept has occurred in any negotiations and Bryant himself is telling us that he’s not miffed about the actual negotiations.
Just what he "saw in an article."
Cowboys Nation unwads its panties as Rogers and I tweet the results of our findings. Moments later, the controversy is diffused when Dez himself retweets Rogers’ clarification.
There are no ruffled feathers, according to both sides. There apparently is no contract rift, and no story.
"Golf is hard!!!" Bryant later tweets, with that his only real problem on a lazy Monday off with nothing for any of us to do but kill time.