The Dallas Cowboys are not a mentally tough team. No one can argue that fact, not even players or coaches themselves. Of course, delirious team owner Jerry Jones will say anything to make himself and/or his team look good, but even he knows his team lacks arguably the most important aspect of the game.
A team like this cannot possibly afford any distractions, especially from its star players. The Cowboys don’t have any true leaders, something that’s been pointed out by players on the team, coaches and media members for a while, but especially this off-season. So when receiver Dez Bryant was arrested on Monday for domestic violence it should have struck a nerve within the organization.
Sure, Bryant is primed to have a breakout season on the field, but his misdemeanor domestic violence charge if punishable by a fine up to $4,000 and up to a year in jail. He won’t be helping Dallas much from behind bars.
Of course, he probably won’t see any jail time, but you can no longer count Bryant’s instances with the law over the past two years on one hand. He’s been sued a handful a times for unpaid jewelry, rent and tickets to sporting events dating back to his college days at Oklahoma State; he was kicked out of Northpark Mall in Dallas a year ago for sagging pants and using profanity at off-duty police officers who made him leave; then in January, Bryant was detained by police because of an alleged fight with rapper Lil Wayne at a Miami night club.
The point is he hasn’t learned his lesson. He’s in his third season now and expectations are through the roof on the field, but he hasn’t shown the mental toughness or sheer intelligence to stay out of trouble. On top of that, he hasn’t shown that on the field, either. Remember the Cowboys’ Week 1 loss against the New York Jets last season? Bryant was hurting his team by being on the field with that bruised quad, yet he wouldn’t come off the field and he ended up costing Dallas the game.
That’s not to say he can’t learn and get better, but it doesn’t seem that he’s trying to do that. The Cowboys haven’t made a statement about this latest incident, but if head coach Jason Garrett doesn’t discipline Bryant, then there’s no hope for this franchise with him at the helm anyway.
That’s not to mention the NFL’s conduct policy, which Bryant has now violated. He will likely receive some sort of punishment from the league, which might end badly if he doesn’t cooperate.
The Cowboys should give some serious thought to trading Bryant. He’s a superstar with some character issues, but lots of teams will pay big for a guy with his physical talent. That’s to say Dallas should start shopping him today; he deserves a chance to make this right and prove that he is learning and this was just a mistake.
However, the Cowboys should place Bryant under a zero tolerance policy from now on. If he gets into trouble again, he should be traded. Terrell Owens put up incredible numbers for the Cowboys in 2006 and 2007, but he wasn’t worth the off-the-field drama. Now Bryant hasn’t caused any problems in the locker room, but he’s hurting his team by setting a bad example, being a distraction and jeopardizing his time on the field.
At this point in his short career, Bryant isn’t worth the trouble. He’s been out of shape and that’s shown in second halves of games. He’s supposedly in much better shape now with the Cowboys’ new off-season workout program, but what good is that if he’s not on the field?
Bryant is valuable to the Cowboys; there’s no question about that. However, he may be more valuable as trade bait than as a player. If he gets in trouble again, he should be traded and that’s just the way it is. The Cowboys have a hard enough time executing as it is, so extra distractions like Bryant won’t fly.