Oh, Dez Bryant.
The former Oklahoma State star receiver had a rough year. First, he was ineligible for most of his senior year because of inappropriate dealings with Deion Sanders (which is another laughable move by the NCAA, but that for another post.) Then the Miami Dolphins questioned him about the rumor of his mother being a former prostitute.
Finally, things got significantly better when the Dallas Cowboys selected him with the 24th overall pick in the 2010 NFL Draft. He was the first first-round pick to sign and inked a deal worth up to $11.8 million for five years. Of that money, a mere $8.5 million was guaranteed.
So, some drama unfolded this weekend when fellow Cowboys receiver Roy Williams — a six-year veteran who was also a first-round pick 2004 — told Bryant to carry his pads to the locker room after practice. Bryant refused and then told members of the media he meant “no disrespect,” that he was “just being me,” and that he was paid to help bring the Cowboys a championship, “not carry no one’s pads.”
My initial reaction to this was, “Show some respect to the veterans who have been out there getting beat up and making plays for years.” But that isn’t the right reaction.
“Rookie hazing” is a tradition in the NFL and, the more I think about it, it’s stupid and hypocritical. Here is why:
1.) Williams is being completely disrespectful to a colleague and, in any other work setting, this kind of disrespect would not be tolerated.
2.) While Bryant’s approach was all wrong, he is absolutely right at the heart of the matter: He is there to play football and help win a championship. If Jerry Jones and Wade Phillips are going to respect him enough to trade down in the draft to get him and pay him a minimum of $8.5 million, his teammates should be classy coworkers, not juvenile power-trippers.
3.) I have seen incidents of “rookie hazing” before when it has all been fun and games — taping guys to the goalposts, throwing them in ice baths, etc. — but that seems to be in fun, when the team is bonding, laughing and engaging in childish horseplay. Childish and stupid, yes, but those don’t seem to be situations when someone who is directly competing for playing time with a younger colleague overtly patronizes him.
4.) Today, Bryant is claiming ignorance, and Williams is backing off his “we’ll get him” stance claiming he will be a little more hungry and a little more thirsty when they go out to eat. GAG! Enjoy the Cristal and filets, boys. If either of these guys had any more class, they would help each others’ charities or donate some of that hard-earned loot to the other’s alma mater.
My first reaction was for Bryant to show some respect and to grow up.
The right reaction is for all involved to grow up — that includes the billionaire owners sitting on the idea of a lockout.