When I turned 13, my dad bought me my first Dallas Cowboy’s jersey. I loved it. I remember going store-to-store trying to find it. We couldn’t find one that had “Irvin” stitched in the back. So I settled; everyone knew who “88” was. But we didn’t necessary know “what” 88 could be.
Tex Schramm, the original president and general manager of America’s Team, once predicted Hall of Fame wide receiver Michael Irvin would be a pivotal piece in speeding up the Cowboy’s “return to living.” He was right. Irvin was the first of the triplets to be drafted.
Current Cowboy wideout Dez Bryant must be a central piece of the Cowboys too. His talents are not going unnoticed. I see a player with uncanny power, speed, strength and balance. I see a player who can make the Detroit Lion’s All-Pro Wide Receiver, Calvin “Megatron” Johnson, look like a second round draft choice.
Bryant is a freak. He is putting belief back into my jersey. I’ve long forgotten the previous 88’s: Jackie Harris, Drew Pearson and Antonio Bryant (um). No matter how this season pins down, I believe Bryant will earn most improved and possibly the MVP on the Cowboys’ roster.
Bryant, unlike other prima donna wide receivers, has proven (very quickly) he can do one thing: Shut up. Dez has shut up since the Baltimore game where he stood up and balked at refs instead of getting back in line while precious seconds ticked away.
Dez is listening. He is improving. He is communicating with staff and players. He is putting his team first. He is taking care of the ball (remember his fumble on his last punt return).
This wide receiver is running his routes better too. And Cowboys’ quarterback Tony Romo has noticed. The trust factor was so shaky in the beginning of the season I wondered if Bryant was even on the field. Now, instead of checking down or finding tight end Jason Witten, Romo is gunning for his star receiver. Why not? Just give him the dang ball and let him plow cornerbacks all day.
People will hinge on Bryant’s character. That’s understandable. The only player that can stop him right now is, well, him. But Bryant has muted the colorful negatives in a short span of time. He knows what wearing 88 means, and what it could mean for this organization. This is a player who is trying to change. That’s something to hinge on. That’s character. That’s a leader.
Bryant is the jump-start the Cowboys have been waiting for. Doubts? Compare Irvin’s first 3 seasons against Bryant’s. There’s hope in Dallas. And once again it sits inside the 88 jersey. So excuse me while I hunt down my old jersey.