Effective immediately, Dallas Cowboys wide receiver Dez Bryant can no longer drink, stay out late, hit up strip clubs or drive himself to practices and games. In the eyes of the law, he's still a completely innocent and free man, but the Cowboys organization isn't taking any more chances.
Here, via ESPNDallas.com's Calvin Watkins, are the guidelines the team has placed on their mischievous young wideout:
- A midnight curfew. If he's going to miss curfew, team officials must know in advance.
- No drinking alcohol.
- He can't attend any strip clubs and can only attend nightclubs if they are approved by the team and he has a security team with him.
- He must attend counseling sessions twice a week.
- A rotating three-man security team will leave one man with Bryant at all times.
- Members of the security team will drive Bryant to practices, games and team functions.
On ESPN's First Take Monday, Stephen A. Smith implied that this could strike some as a race issue, admitting he's "uncomfortable with it to some degree."
But Smith ultimately applauded the Cowboys for laying down the law in such a proactive way.
"This is a business and Dez Bryant is an investment being made by Jerry Jones and the Dallas Cowboys organization," Smith said. "This is Dez Bryant's fault."
"This isn't a black or white thing or anything like that," he added. "This is a behavioral issue."
I agree. Bryant is a man who lacks discipline and happens to be black. He's not a black man who lacks discipline. I understand that Jones and the Cowboys have taken similar approaches with Adam Jones and Tank Johnson, both of whom are also black, but let's remember that only about 30 percent of NFL players are white.
I believe—or at least I strongly hope—that if Bryant were white the exact same thing would be happening.
What the Cowboys are doing here is getting out in front of a potential problem. Jones and his colleagues have been doing this for a long time. They know when players are on right tracks and wrong ones, and they have identified Bryant as someone who needs extra attention.
Some will argue that Bryant's never been charged with a crime and that even if an alleged domestic assault from July winds up taking him down, it will only be his first strike. The NFL has yet to suspend him, and there's a chance he'd escape major punishment if charges in that alleged incident were to come to fruition.
As a result, they'll argue that Bryant doesn't deserve to be lassoed with babysitters and curfews. But what they're missing is that this is could be a watershed moment for the 23-year-old. This isn't a contentious situation. Bryant is a willing participant. It appears he realizes he needs to make changes before it's too late.
Jones isn't waiting for the spit to hit the fan this time, and Bryant is on board. It's eerily harmonious.
And this wouldn't have worked any other way. It's not contractual anyway, but Bryant knows any violations will give the team another reason to fire him. Maybe that's the primary reason why he's obliging without a fight, or maybe he's just turning a corner.
Regardless, it's a sign that both parties are willing to take extreme measures in order to get the best out of each other.
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