If you’re a fan of the Dallas Cowboys, you likely view it amusing and
harmless. If you’re a Cowboy hater, you likely view it as the beginning
of the end. If you’re a member of the media, you likely view it as an
opportunity to turn a non-story into the second coming of the O.J.
trial. The “it” in this case is the recent account of Cowboys rookie Dez
Bryant refusing to take part in a long-standing Training Camp tradition
of rookie hazing.
While I won’t join the throngs of sports talk radio hosts who are
dedicating their airwaves to the non-topic, I will throw out my two
cents and move on. If you haven’t heard, the Cowboys top pick refused to
carry fellow wide receiver Roy Williams shoulder pads back to the
locker room following a team practice.
“I’m not doing it,” said Bryant. “I feel like I was drafted to play
football, not carry another player’s pads. If I was a free agent, it
would still be the same thing. I just feel like I’m here to play
football. I’m here to try to help win a championship, not carry
someone’s pads. I’m saying that out of no disrespect to (anyone).”
The only part of this “story” that makes it even remotely interesting is
the fact that Bryant and Williams are ultimately competing for the same
starting position. And let’s understand Bryant’s actions correctly. His actions are all about playing time and the fact that Bryant doesn’t want the
incumbent Williams to hold the upper hand which led to Bryant taking a
stand more so than his dislike for rookie razzing. My guess is that
Bryant would’ve been just fine if veterans Jason Witten, Tony Romo or
even Miles Austin would’ve handed him their respective pads. But with
Bryant and Williams both fighting for the same spot in the lineup he
probably didn’t want Williams one-upping him, however seemingly harmless the
Initially I thought Bryant needed to buck up and go along with the NFL’s
silly tradition of ridiculing rookies but if my theory of why Bryant
made his stance on Williams specifically, then I’m OK with his little rebel
yell. My guess is Williams was looking over his shoulder ever since
Dallas drafted Bryant back in March. I’m guessing his head is in full
Exorcist mode these days.
Will Bryant’s “just say no” policy be a distraction and divide the locker
room? Doubt it. Will the training camp competition help both players
raise their level of play and leave the Cowboys with the dilemma of trying
to get both guys on the field at the same time? Perhaps. Or will
Williams crumble under the microscope before disappearing from Big D for
good? Book it.