Nov 24, 2011; Arlington, TX, USA; Dallas Cowboys wide receiver Dez Bryant (88) on the sidelines during the game against the Miami Dolphins on Thanksgiving day at Cowboys Stadium. The Cowboys beat the Dolphins 20-19. Mandatory Credit: Tim Heitman-US PRESSWIRE

Dez Bryant: Mistake or Miracle?

Dez Bryant has become a very polarizing topic for Cowboys fans, with several suggesting that it is time for the team to sever ties with the troubled athlete.  I’ve never been one to excuse someone’s behavior simply because of a difficult childhood. But I do believe some cases warrant exception or at least a closer look.

Now before I start, let me be very clear that I in no way condone Dez’s actions in regards to the physical altercation with his mother. I believe in all cases that it is better to walk away than to allow things to escalate to that point. However, I need to point out that the reason I feel this way is because I had parents who raised me in these beliefs, that instilled morals and that taught me responsibility.  This is where Dez’s problems began.

With Dez’s mother in and out of prison on drug charges throughout his childhood, he was left without the limited amount of direction a 14 year old mother could provide. He spent part of his childhood living in a car, and other parts going door to door asking for a place to sleep. His teachers in Lufkin stated that he slept in his clothes every night, ready to be kicked out at a moment’s notice.

This is a heartbreaking childhood story, and one that led many college and NFL scouts to say it was the most traumatic they had ever seen.  The same teachers in Lufkin say that despite all of this, Dez was the sweetest most generous kid you could ever meet.  Dez’s only behavioral issues stemmed from a lack of maturity.

I think this is to be expected. After all, do we automatically earn maturity each year of our lives, or are we taught it by loved ones through character guidance and discipline? Bryant’s off the field antics are infamous, but why? He is far from being the NFL’s biggest problem child. Other than Ms. Bryant’s accusations which she later recanted, what has he really been guilty of?

In a league where players seem to be regularly arrested for drug possession, weapons possession, sexual assault and DUI’s, are we really going to label someone a problem for wearing their pants low? Are we going to consider him difficult because he was never taught and never learned to manage his money?  What at all does that have to do with football? Are we going to turn our back on someone for sitting in a bar minding his own business, when someone relentlessly attempted to instigate a fight with him? Have we all forgotten that Troy Aikman was involved in a physical altercation in a country bar?

Honestly, these things don’t concern me.  When looking back at how this young man was raised, I can’t help but wonder how he has made it to where he is today.  He grew up with no one to raise or provide for him, virtually spending parts of his childhood homeless.  How did this kid make it through high school, let alone go to college?  With a mother repeatedly arrested on drug charges, how did Dez manage to avoid that lifestyle?  With no guidance or support, how is he not in jail or dead?

The obstacles Dez has overcome just to get to this point is nothing short of a miracle.  If the Cowboys organization is a family, then we the fans would be the extended family.  So my question is this: What kind of family are we going to be? Are we going to turn our backs on him rather than give him the help that he needs? Are we going to be like so many others in his life and only care about him in terms of what he can provide for us?  Or are we going to help him, support him, and lift him up to become the athlete he has the potential to be? If you are not supposed to judge a man until you’ve walked a mile in his shoes, how many of us have spent 100 yards in his?

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