And I don’t blame him.
One of the quickest ways to lose money, a job, and/or credibility is to remain ignorant of cultural changes. Dez Bryant vs. Roy WIlliams wasn’t about disrespect, it was about a culture change. That change being: in todays NFL some rookies are at or above the talent levels of some NFL veterans. As the NFL becomes more and more like a business, NFL veterans and rookies become more and more like coworkers.
Being outmuscled and tied to a goalpost is one thing, but carrying around another mans sweaty shoulder pads is something entirely different. If you’re a new hire at a big corporation and a coworker, not boss, asks you to valet their car every morning for a week, are you doing it?
I believe Dez legitimately didn’t know what was going on. Roy himself did not approach Dez, an equipment guy approached him with the request and Dez blew him off to continue interacting with fans after practice. There was no argument or confrontation, but of course Dez being Dez, it created controversy.
As for Dez being Dez, well, according to the media we already think we know who Dez is…..do we really?
In order to understand somebody you must first know where they’ve been. Your warm fuzzies might change about that charming individual you just met if you find out they’ve spent 10 years in jail.
Dez came from a disturbed household. Both his mother and father were at one point involved with illegal activities and lived the type of lifestyle that made it impossible to fully look after and support a child. Dez’s escape was the football field. Like so many in that situation, it was viewed as his only outlet to a different life. Fast forward to college and the NCAA violation that forced him to miss his junior year. Dez’s biggest sin was lying in an attempt to preserve what was more than likely his last year in college. If all had gone to plan for Dez Bryant, assuming no injuries, he would’ve finished his junior year as a top 10 NFL talent poised to make $30 million guaranteed. I don’t agree with lying, it’s always foolish to not tell the truth, but I can see the motivation. This isn’t a sob story, these are simply facts that help us understand a mindset we may not know much about.
Then came Dolphins GM Jeff Ireland who decided that knowing if Dez’s mom was a prostitute or not was going to give him insight into Dez’s ability to read a zone blitz and adjust his route accordingly. This became a huge national story with varied opinions that dusted off some of the old lines that existed between blacks and whites. If you go into the DallasCowboys.com multimedia archive and listen to Dez’s interviews about the situation you’ll see that 1) he handled himself very well, and, 2) he just wanted it to go away.
Dez Bryant had one of the longest and most embarrassing routes to the NFL that didn’t involve drugs or alcohol.
This issue between Dez and Roy started brewing as soon as Roger Goodell uttered his name as the 24th overall pick. Roy has struggled during his time as a Cowboy and in comes a young stud. Cue typical late 90’s teen sitcom episode ‘A New Kid Comes To Town’ and it’s not hard to see the tension involved. The media had been sitting on this story for months and when they got the chance to run with it, they Usain bolted.
All of Dez’s so-called question marks started coming up, mainly, his perceived disrespect of authority and a diva attitude. The fact that Jeff Ireland wasn’t just released from the hospital yesterday tells you Dez Bryant doesn’t have a problem with authority. Since becoming a Cowboy he’s replied ‘yes sir’ and ‘no ma’am’, showed a passion for the game, competed nonstop, was the very first 1st round pick to sign, missed no time due to a holdout, and has exceeded lofty expectations…..and we’re still in preseason.
Looking at this situation without the superimposed backstory of Roy vs. Dez you’ll see there was no disrespect in Dez’s refusal to carry his shoulder pads. It was simply due to a culture change in the NFL. It’s no longer a given for every rookie to take a backseat to a veteran. The college game is so intense and so competitive these days that most of your top 10-15 teams have guys on their rosters that can start for an NFL team. College football is basically the only route to the NFL. College programs have developed into powerhouses and are producing talent that is much closer to an NFL level than ever before. Some guys get drafted and have to sit behind a veteran to learn, grow, and develop. Other talent, such as Dez, is physically ready to come into training camp, compete, and make an immediate impact on the field. This makes them equals. They may be labeled ‘rookies’ but that doesn’t always translate to ‘inferior’ in todays NFL. Some rookies are good enough to just be the new kid in town, which means their only obligations are to work hard to contribute on the field and fit into the team……humility is no longer a rite of passage for all in the NFL.
The only thing we can legitimately learn from this situation is that Dez doesn’t look up to Roy. And he shouldn’t, they’re coworkers.