By Shawn Lealos
While the defensive collapse in the Dallas Cowboys 31-30 loss to the Detroit Lions was bad, the one thing that many people seem to be looking at is Dez Bryant’s eruption on the sideline during the game. It seems like everyone has an opinion, and the prevailing one is that Bryant is a prima donna who is causing friction with the team through his outbursts.
According to the Dallas Cowboys, that couldn’t be further from the truth.
It did bring back memories of when players like Terrell Owens would explode on the sidelines and yell at Tony Romo about not throwing him the ball as many times as he would like. In the case of Bryant though, that’s not what happened. According to Romo himself, Bryant was not asking for the ball more. He was not complaining about not getting as many targets as other players. Romo even laughed it off because he said Bryant is nothing like that.
Romo said that Bryant was, more than anything, trying to get the team pumped up to head back on the field. Romo also said that Bryant was animated in wanting to get on the same page as Romo and find out what he needed to do to help the team. He did want to get the ball in his hands, but he wasn’t blaming Romo; he was trying to figure out what he needed to do to get in better position to catch the ball.
Step in Jerry Jones for the next comment about the situation.
Jones said that, when he saw Bryant’s outburst on the sideline, it never bothered him at all. He knew what that outburst would cause. It was not the disruption to the team chemistry that everyone assumes will happen when a player explodes. No, it was the opposite. As Jones said, after that outburst, Dallas came out on fire. He said that Bryant’s excitability to play the game fires everyone up and Dallas plays better in those situations.
There have also been people online, both columnists and bloggers, who point out that Dez Bryant has been compared to Calvin Johnson, but Johnson never feels the need to blow up on the sidelines. Of course, Bryant gets fired up and emotional and Dallas starts to score points. Johnson is calm and quiet and the Detroit Lions finished 2012 with a four win season. Johnson can have all the 300 yard games he wants, but wouldn’t a team prefer a player with the fire to win and not just pad their own stats?
The last bit comes from Jason Witten, one of the players who got into what looked like a heated argument with Bryant on the sidelines of the game. Even Witten said people were taking it out of context. He said they do get heated and they do yell, but at the end of the day they are teammates and family and they are doing everything they do because they want to win games.
Dez Bryant wants to win and he plays with a level of excitement that should be appreciated. Instead, everyone wants to tear him down for it and ask him to play quietly. The problem is that, if Bryant doesn’t show passion, who will step up and be the emotional leader on this offense? Peyton Manning yells at more players in one game than anyone in the NFL, and no one blasts him for it. Let Bryant play the way that he plays – Dallas needs more players to play with that level of emotion.
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Shawn S. Lealos is a freelance writer who graduated from the University of Oklahoma in 2000 with a Bachelor’s Degree in Journalism. He writes for a variety of national publications and has over 15 years of sports journalism experience. Follow Shawn on Twitter @sslealos. Examiner.com.