Dez Bryant: Tell-all raises questions about relationship with Jerry Jones


Dallas Cowboys owner and general manager Jerry Jones struck gold when he traded up to select wide receiver Dez Bryant with the 24th pick in the 2010 NFL Draft.

For the past five years, Bryant has established himself as one of the game’s elite, overcoming an often maligned public perception to become a cornerstone in the Cowboys’ quest for their 6th Super Bowl. Yet somehow, besides the occasional Twitter rant, Dez has been a surprisingly soft-spoken character in the Dallas media – preaching the company line, catching passes, and absorbing criticism.

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A deep-cutting contract dispute raised questions about the relationship between ownership and player months ago, especially after rumors of a damning security camera video, purportedly showing Bryant assaulting a woman in a Walmart parking lot. Bryant denied the video’s existence (he’s probably right), and tweeted the following:

Rolling Stone‘s release of a long-form article on Dez made good on his desire for an exclusive interview.

An outstanding piece by Paul Solotaroff, “The Survivor,” tells the emotional story of Bryant’s upbringing, his early years in the NFL, and the relationship with Dallas businessman and Cowboys consultant David Wells. And also some hints of a strained relationship with the boss man, Jerry Jones.

"The days ticked down to the contract deadline in July; both sides dug in and didn’t budge. The Cowboys, who’d made Bryant a specious offer — nine years, $90 million, only $12 million guaranteed; by comparison, the Detroit Lions gave Calvin Johnson $113 million, the first $53 million guaranteed — and dared Bryant to cave, betting that he was broke or very near it. Meanwhile, Bryant vowed to hold out into the season and sell off what he owned, if need be. “I came from nothing and got no problem going back there,” he says. “Mr. Jones thinks he knows me, but he don’t know [expletive].”"

It will be interesting in the coming days to see what reaction (if any) there is from the Cowboys camp, and particularly the Jones family. Solotaroff’s piece paints David Wells in a less than flattering light but implies a connection between him and the Cowboys remains. Bryant even says he’s even reached out to teammates to “warn” them in case Wells’ services are offered by the team.

Since Dez signed a 5-year, $70 million contract extension with the Cowboys earlier this summer, Jones has been very complimentary of Roc Nation, the agency led by Jay-Z, who Bryant hired to represent his interests. But how genuine are these feelings, considering the tumultuous end to the Cowboys’ hand-picked “Dez Rules” enforcer?

At face value, Solotaroff’s writing makes Jones appear gullible, possibly even racist. Was really Dez perceived as just “[t]he latest in a long line of head-job talents, all of whom just happened to be black?” Even if not, it seems Dez may believe so. “[T]hey treat me like I’m some kind of one-man crime wave,” Bryant says. “I told Mr. Jones, ‘I’m not Michael Irvin,’ but he wasn’t trying to hear me out.”

The NFL is a tough business, but Jones has been known to build personal relationships with players that extend beyond football. Larry Allen, the former All-Pro offensive lineman, went so far as to call Jones a “father figure” before his induction into the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Bryant has said similar and even recently has indicated he remains close to Jones.

But this story certainly makes one question the functions of that dynamic. And just how much trust was lost through the whole David Wells, Roc Nation, Walmart video, contract negotiation saga?

I highly recommend you read Solotaroff’s entire piece. It shows a fascinating side to the Dez story that makes one further respect his sometimes controversial passion. It also leaves mystery surrounding the state of his player-owner relationship.

Of course as fans, we’re just glad to see Dez with the star on his helmet for the next five years. We all know winning has a way of making many things better.

Let’s hope Dez Bryant and Jerry Jones find no shortage of it.

Next: Dallas Cowboys Roster Battles: The Quarterback Quandary