Dez Bryant flips out at Ford Field
DETROIT -- Dez Bryant is a misunderstood superstar.
Just ask him.
Moments after a pair of sideline tantrums during a brutal last-second loss to the Lions, the Cowboys wide receiver explained at great length that he's never shown anything but respect for the game.
"I'm passionate about football," he said. "I'm passionate about the game, and I'm passionate about winning, but it is always a good passion. Anyone who knows me knows that I'm a good person off the field, and I'm just as good a person on the field."
None of Bryant's teammates were willing to contradict him on Sunday, but they might be having a hard time seeing all of the good he's doing for the Cowboys right now. Yes, Bryant caught two touchdown passes against Detroit, one of them a highlight-reel grab in the end zone where he pinned the ball against his shoulder pad to make the catch.
He only caught one other pass, though, and his behavior on the sidelines looked like something out of a kindergarten recess. First, after a Dallas punt, Bryant slammed his helmet to the turf and began screaming at Dallas quarterback Tony Romo.
Later, as Matthew Stafford's winning touchdown was being reviewed, Bryant got into a screaming match with tight end Jason Witten that included a teammate having to push Witten away as he gestured angrily with his helmet.
According to Bryant? It was all good.
"The only people who have a problem with me are the people that don't understand what's happening out there," he said. "I'm not a distraction, and I'm never doing anything negative. I love this game, and you got to have passion in this game.
"I love my teammates and I love to win. That's how I've been since Pop Warner ball, and in high school and in college and now. There's no such thing as too much passion. That's not even a possibility."
The Cowboys were entirely behind Bryant, at least when talking to the media. Owner Jerry Jones said he thought Bryant's first rant might have fired up the team, and coach Jason Garrett was quick to defend Bryant's, well, you can probably guess.
"Dez is a very passionate player and a very competitive player," he said. "He gets a lot of attention from the opposing defenses, and he just wanted the ball. We want guys who want the ball. Dez has never been a distraction to our football team."
Garrett was working off a different page of talking points than Bryant and Tony Romo, though. They both insisted that Bryant would never complain about his lack of touches.
"I would never do that," Bryant said. "This is a super offense with a lot of great players, and Tony is a great quarterback. I understand exactly why he does what he does."
"He's a competitive guy, and he's never complained to me about getting the ball," he said. "When you guys see emotions from Dez, it is more of a 'rah rah' thing than him being a 'me' guy. Sometimes he's just saying 'Come on guys, come on, we're better than this.'"
Of course, an emotional Sunday was just the end of a week that Bryant would probably like to have over. On Monday, Bryant bragged that he had the same skills and talent level as Lions star Calvin Johnson.
"I believe I can do whatever he can do," he said on a radio appearance. "I think Calvin's the best at what he does and I'm the best at what I do."
Johnson denied that he got fired up by Bryant's comments, but for the sake of the Cowboys, he should stay away from anything that might inspire an opposing player.
The man called "Megatron" single-handedly kept the Lions in the game with 14 catches for a franchise-record 329 yards, the second-highest total in NFL history and just seven short of Flipper Anderson's NFL record.
"He's a marked man, and we gave him a lot of attention, just like most teams do," Garrett said with a look approaching helplessness. "It's just a very difficult matchup, because he's a big guy who can run, make plays over his head, make plays underneath and run with the ball after the catch."
Maybe it was a coincidence that Johnson put on one of the greatest shows in league history in the same week that Bryant made the comparison, and maybe Bryant was just cheering on his teammates and Witten was just venting his own anger about Sunday's brutal loss.