Dez Bryant: Are There Really Character Issues?

Peter TContributor IAugust 20, 2010

OXNARD, CA - AUGUST 14:  Wide receiver Dez Bryant #88 catches a pass during Dallas Cowboys Training Camp at the Marriott Residence Inn Oxnard River Ridge on August 14, 2010 in Oxnard, California.  (Photo by Jeff Gross/Getty Images)
Jeff Gross/Getty Images

There have been so many stories about Dez Bryant that it's starting to seem like the media, fans and other teams are all trying to find a reason to label Dez Bryant as a character risk.

There are stories about Dez Bryants mother selling cocaine. Stories about his father being a pimp. Stories about his childhood best friend going to jail. Stories about his relationship with Deion Sanders. Stories about lying to the NCAA. Stories about how Michael Irvin is mentoring him, stories about who will represented him in his contract discussions and stories about rookie hazing. 

If I didn't know any better, I would say that Dez Bryant is a sure thing to fail in his NFL endeavor. The key phrase there is "if I didn't know any better" because the one thing that continues to echo in my head is that Dez Bryant has never had a run in with the law. Doesn't that mean anything anymore? Shouldn't we be congratulating him for navigating such a treacherous life and coming out with only a couple minor bumps and bruises? 

This kid looked temptation in the eye and refused to succumb to it. His mother obviously has a cocaine problem. His father was a pimp. Michael Irvin had his problems with drugs and women. Through all of this, all Dez Bryant has proven (through his actions) is that negative factors around him don't influence Dez Bryant nor do they dictate his values. 

What really has he done wrong? He lied to the NCAA about talking to Deion Sanders.  He thought that he was going to be suspended for having an innocent conversation so he lied. Was that such a bad thing? Was it so terrible that he didn't want his college career to be jeopardized over something so innocent as a conversation with a sports icon that he decided to deny the conversation? If anything, Deion Sanders should be ashamed. He had no business discussing matters with a collegiate athlete and if he does, he should know the NCAA's guidelines about such conduct and notify the player.  In this case, Deion should have told Dez that what they are doing is not against NCAA rules and he could be upfront with the NCAA about it. 

Also, the NCAA should be ashamed with the way they conducted themselves. Did they tell Dez Bryant before questioning him that having a conversation with Deion Sanders is in no way a violation of NCAA rules? Did they make that clear or did they just tell him that they were investigating a possible rules violation and needed to know if he spoke with Deion Sanders? The line of questioning is very important, especially if you're fishing for a certain outcome.

Then, we have Dez Bryant's mother. Is she the next mother Teresa? Obviously not but what does that have to do with Dez Bryant? Dez, like the rest of us, didn't get to chose his parents. We are dealt our hand and must make the most out of our cards. I don't know too many people that could have turned such a lousy hand (mother being a drug addict and father being a pimp) into a full house like Dez did. Through his actions and choices, he reshuffled the deck and came out on top. He was the lone ace in his poker hand of life. He traded in the remaining four cards for four new one's and struck it rich by overcoming that lifestyle and ending up in the NFL.

Once that he achieved his goal, what do we as fans, the media and other teams try to do? We try to tear the kid down. Was your mom a prostitute? You are lazy! Your a prima donna! Why won't you carry another players pads? He's injury prone! Will he hold out? These are the things we as a society asked about him. These are the things we labled him as.

And what has Dez Bryant actually done to deserve any of this? He signed his contract before any other first rounder solely because he didn't want to miss much time learning the Cowboys offense. He made a mistake not carrying Roy Williams pads which he admitted he didn't know about the tradition and tried to make up for it by buying all the receivers new shoes and going out of his way to purchase Madden 2011 for Roy Williams because he knew it was his favorite game. He has been working non-stop with Miles Austin, Jason Garrett and Tony Romo trying to gain a good chemistry with them. He has learned the playbook and spent time with Jason Garrett during his high ankle sprain injury, proving that he knows the plays by having Garrett call out a play and lining up where he is supposed to be and shouting out his assignment. He forgave Jeff Ireland for an incredibly intrusive question and even stated that if he sees him or Tony Sparano in the preseason he will shake their hands because he has no hard feelings toward them. He has tried to get onto the field as soon as possible from a high ankle sprain claiming that he could play the last two preseason games even though the Cowboys are unlikely to let him.

What am I trying to say with all of this?  I'm saying that no matter what we as outsiders have said about Dez Bryant, all he has done is prove us wrong. We are waiting for the man to collapse but his history says we will be waiting a long time. I'm saying that Dez Bryant should be congratulated for how well he has handled the situations in his life.  He has proven that he is a man who walks his own path even if people continue to point him in another direction. 

Good for you Dez Bryant for being yourself even when everyone else is trying to make you into someone you are not. Let them call you the next Terrell Owens or Chad Johnson (I refuse to call him by his other dumb name) or Michael Crabtree. Take it as a compliment that they fear just how good you will be even though they want to compare your personality to those players.

Lastly, good for you Jerry Jones and the Cowboys for judging this man on his actions and not the actions of his family, friends or mentors. People like to make America's Team out to be a bunch of thugs and their owner out to be the worst General Manager in the NFL but what I see is a team willing to forgive the past and provide a foundation for the future.

Welcome home Dez, the Ring of Honor awaits you in 10-15 years.