Just when you think life is clicking along smoothly, a speeding freight train crashes into your brand new BMW. All hell breaks loose. Chaos ensues. While the reality is not quite that dramatic in this case, the news came as a shock to most of the Dallas Cowboy nation. I say shock, not because of who the story is about, but the timing of it all. After what was a relatively quiet summer, the Cowboys were heading into training camp virtually unscathed. No murders, jail sentences, or serious offenses during the off-season. Oh, there was this little blip back in January, involving Dez Bryant, but turned out to be nothing that mattered. Or did it? Was it just the tip of the iceberg in another tragic celebrity story?
Late afternoon on July 16, Twitter exploded with news that Bryant was arrested. What in the world? was my initial reaction. Much louder than expressed here, mind you. I continued to read Twitter and the articles that followed as news outlets posted new details of the incident. Every other tweet on my feed was about this young man. Everyone had an opinion, advice, or judgment. So, as I sat there in disbelief, disgust, and disappointment, I knew what I had to write about this week. I will not judge him guilty of a crime. We don’t even know the “rest of the story” yet, but what I have read across multiple message boards and sports writers articles, causes me a bit of concern. Football seems to be all that matters to some vs the lives of human beings.
First I went to my number one source for all things Oklahoma State University, OrangePower.com. When news like this hits, you can bet there will be a thread about the topic. Rabid OSU fans speak their minds, but there was a split in the fanbase as to his guilt or innocence. Some are quick to judge (those types get attacked by their fellow fans) and others are quick to defend. We are a loyal bunch; sometimes to a fault. As I read through the thread; however, my thoughts turned to sadness. Many of these fans were actually approving and condoning his behavior (as they have every other time he made headlines.) Keep in mind that the initial reports said the following: “charged with a Class A misdemeanor for assaulting a female family member.” These fans were actually professing approval of the alleged infraction.
I will stop there with discussing the incident; we will know more about what happened in the coming weeks. What I want to focus on, that not many seem to care about, is his emotional well-being, his two little boys, and his future, in life, not football. It was made clear from the moment he stepped on a football field that the man had a horrible upbringing. That is not his fault. It’s been discussed that he was passed around from family member to family member due to his mother’s incarceration and his father’s disappearance from his life. Bryant’s informative years were tumultuous and one many of us cannot fathom. It wouldn’t be shocking or unreasonable if it’s revealed that Bryant has some anger issues and some hurts buried in his soul. Many subjects, such as this, are too touchy, feely. Sports writers are better off not diving into what makes a person tick. Most would rather talk about what a player is going to do on the field…..who cares what happens in their personal lives. Right. But, I’m going to talk about it because it’s more important that Bryant is whole than if he scores 50 touchdowns a year. Isn’t it?
My suggestion – tough love. That is what Bryant needs right now. He needs someone, not his agent, not his mentor, not his friends, but someone who will tell him what he needs to hear; not what they think he wants to hear. He needs unconditional love; but also, limits and boundaries. It doesn’t sound like he has ever had that, so he believes he can do whatever he pleases. He doesn’t need fans making excuses for his behavior. He doesn’t need a bunch of leeches with their hands held out. Bryant’s days are numbered as a Dallas Cowboy if he doesn’t get a handle on this behavior. What I’m proposing, this tough love idea, is not mean and cruel. Quite the opposite in fact. He is young enough that he can overcome the demons. He has two young sons to raise and they need their dad healthy and active in their lives. Rising above his upbringing will speak volumes to young kids across the country. Bryant may not think, or even admit, he needs help, but this is a crossroads. It’s decision time.
When I first read the headlines, I was furious. I wanted to burn my #88 jersey with the trash. Three days later, I’ve had time to think, cool down, and reason with my thoughts. I’m not going to give up on Dez Bryant and neither should the Dallas Cowboy’s organization. He has time to become the best wide receiver to ever wear a Cowboy jersey, but it’s not going to happen unless someone has a come-to-Jesus meeting with him. I thought about another Dallas athlete who needed a second or third chance. If everyone had given up on him, he might be in prison, or worse, dead. You know him – his name is Josh Hamilton. Maybe he will give Dez a call.