Dallas Cowboys receiver Dez Bryant's passionate, emotional explosion during the team's agonizing Week 8 loss to the Detroit Lions has drawn the attention of franchise legend Michael Irvin, who has a thoughtful take on the matter.
In case you missed it, Bryant rather boisterously approached and seemed to berate quarterback Tony Romo during the second half of Sunday's game. One of Dallas' coaches appeared to attempt to calm him down, but to no avail.
Bryant then got into it with tight end Jason Witten, who clearly took offense.
After the dust settled later that night, Irvin spoke about the incident while on air with NFL Network, as noted by Barry Horn of The Dallas Morning News:
It is just passion. You have to know how to address that kind of passion. He doesn’t have a problem with Jason Witten. He doesn’t have a problem with Tony Romo. He wants the football. ...
I will talk to Dez about this. You can’t go after the quarterback. I have never gone after Troy (Aikman). Search all you want, you will never find tape of me going after Troy. I am going to talk to Dez about this same thing. Get everyone else going, but you walk quietly up to Tony and say "What is going on buddy? Can you get me the ball a little bit better tonight?" and talk to him and a little bit better. I will address that with him.
Note: Image of Bryant and Irvin courtesy of Matthew Emmons of US Presswire via Jon Machota of Fox Sports Southwest.
There are some, like Dwain Price of the Star-Telegram, who would argue with Irvin about what he did or did not do during his playing days:
However, Irvin made an excellent point about there being a better way to approach such a situation.
Bryant may have had the best of intentions, but it came across as nothing more than a childish tantrum many perceived was the result of a lack of involvement in Dallas' game plan. He was targeted just six times in the game, coming up with three catches for 72 yards and two scores—one of which is a worthy submission as the "Catch of the Year."
After the game, Bryant defended his sideline tantrum, invoking "passion" as his defense, as Tim MacMahon of ESPNDallas.com noted:
My passion is always positive. It's always positive. It's going to remain the same way. I'm not saying anything wrong. I'm not saying anything bad. It's all positive. That's just what it is.
I'm the nicest person off the field. When I'm on the field, even when I look angry, it's still all good passion. It's all good passion. I feel like that's what we need. I'm going to remain the same way. I feel like I love this game. I love it. In order to win, you've got to be passionate about this game. You have to be. You've got to let that dog come out and just put it all out there on the line.
Romo, who took the brunt of Bryant's explosive tirade, was nothing but supportive of his young receiver when asked about the incident after the game, as MacMahon noted:
He's never complained to me about getting the ball. He knows that the ball's going where it's supposed to. He knows that.
When you guys sometimes see emotions from Dez, it's just trying to "rah, rah" more than it is being a "me" guy. That's not who Dez is. I think that would be completely out of character for him if there was ever a "me" situation.
As the leader of this team, Romo may have simply taken the high road in this matter, but then again he could be telling the God's honest truth. It sure looked like Bryant was more mad than "rah, rah," but some people express themselves in ways that are difficult for others to interpret.
It would be easy to spin a tale about how this sideline tantrum defines Dallas as an organization. There has been a question of leadership regarding the Cowboys for years now, and this latest development could be construed as just one more example of a lack in this department.
Or it could be the birth of a new leader.
Bryant's passion—channeled in the right direction, with the help of an older, wiser Irvin—could become a driving force for the Cowboys this season and in the years to come.
Note: GIFs via Bleacher Report.
Follow me on Twitter @JesseReed78