Cowboys receiver Dez Bryant scored two touchdowns on Sunday and still damaged his brand. That's difficult to do, but that's not the most remarkable part about his "performance" against the Detroit Lions. This is:
Dez Bryant's reputation had nowhere to go but up -- but will go down after this.
You saw what he did during the Cowboys' 31-30 loss at Detroit. And if you didn't watch it on live television, or see a replay, or see a GIF online -- if somehow you didn't see the most absurd, most rebuked tantrum on an NFL sideline in a long, long time -- see it below. Watch what Dez Bryant did, and then watch what his teammates did.
Great players aren't suspended for something like this, athough maybe they should be. Maybe what Dez Bryant needs for his own good -- and for the good of the Cowboys in the long run, if not for their game next week against the visiting Vikings -- is to have the game he loves, maybe the thing in this world that matters most to him, taken away. Not taken away forever. But for a week or two or whatever.
Put him in timeout. Because what Dez Bryant did Sunday was act like a 3-year-old.
Bryant threw a fit on the sideline in the second half, presumably because he wasn't getting the ball enough, and then when nobody told him that he shouldn't behave like that -- literally, the Cowboys in the vicinity ignored it when Bryant screamed at his receivers coach and then screamed at quarterback Tony Romo -- Bryant did it again a few minutes later.
Only this time, his teammates reacted. After the Lions scored in the final seconds, Bryant was ranting and raving on the sideline. I'm guessing he was saying something about wanting to leave the field, because tight end Jason Witten walked over to him, gestured angrily toward the locker room and could be seen yelling, "Go ahead!"
Bryant continued ranting, so Witten continued gesturing and yelling. Now Witten was pointing at the scoreboard, perhaps noting that the game wasn't over because (A) there were 12 seconds left and (B) the Lions had tied the score at 30 but hadn't yet kicked the go-ahead extra point. Witten's an 11-year veteran with eight Pro Bowl appearances. He's been around too long to watch Dez Bryant act like a toddler on the sideline. Witten was livid.
Enter defensive end DeMarcus Ware, who didn't play Sunday because of a strained thigh. Ware saw what was happening between Bryant and Witten -- what was happening with Bryant -- and walked over to calm the situation. He put an arm between Witten and Bryant, then gently patted Bryant on the face, twice, to get his attention. It seemed to work. Bryant stopped ranting and raving.
Bryant's position coach was also in the vicinity, but his position coach is Vince Dooley's son, and when Bryant kept screaming, Vince Dooley's son walked away. Should Bryant respect Vince Dooley's son simply because Vince Dooley's son is his supervisor? Sure, but this is the NFL. A coach has to earn a player's respect, and nothing on Vince Dooley's son's resume -- not even that triple that Louisiana Tech, Tennessee and now the Cowboys seem to think he hit, when in reality he was born on third base -- commands respect. This could be why Bryant raged out of control on Sunday, because he has been paired with a position coach who is extraordinary for nothing beyond his genetic code.
Not that this is the fault of Vince Dooley's son. It's not, and I'm not saying it is. Just saying, a guy like Dez Bryant probably needs someone with a little more gravitas as his position coach.
What Dez Bryant really needs is to be told in no uncertain terms that he has to get control of himself. Witten tried to tell him that on the sideline, but Bryant was in full meltdown mode. Fighting fire with fire, as Witten was doing, wasn't going to work -- and didn't. Ware showed up with the fire extinguisher, calming down Bryant with two pats on the head and some soothing words. It probably didn't hurt that Ware is the best player on the team, the most likely Hall of Famer on the roster. Along with Witten.
Bryant has issues that extend beyond the field, and to ignore them in a story about his meltdown Sunday would be disingenuous. He was sued by two different jewelers two years ago for failure to make good on payments, and while he settled both suits before the end of 2011, in July 2012 he was arrested on a charge that he assaulted his mother. Bryant agreed to undergo a year of counseling for anger management in exchange for the charge being dropped.
What happened Sunday isn't comparable to a charge of domestic violence, but it shows Bryant (still) has issues with anger, maturity and responsibility. What happened Sunday shows Bryant remains a work in progress. What happened Sunday was an embarrassment for Bryant and the Cowboys.
What happens next? Seems like something ought to happen, right? Bryant could have a long career ahead of him, a long lucrative career in which he could provide for himself and so many others, but he has to get himself under control. Guys like Bryant, they don't figure it out on their own.
Someone has to figure it out for them.