In the History of Hugs, the embrace shared between Jason Witten and Dez Bryant after Sunday’s loss in the Cowboys’ locker room will not be remembered as an all-time great cuddle.
It was a half bro hug. What it lacked in Nicholas Sparks-like tenderness was more than made up for in its sincerity.
The two had only a few minutes before been screaming at each other as they watched their team inexplicably, yet totally predictably, lose against the Detroit Lions, 31-30 in the final seconds.
Yes, they yelled at each other. Yes, they looked stupid. Yes, they had to be separated by teammate DeMacus Ware. Yes, it looks bad.
“I love that kid like a brother,” Witten said of Dez. “He has more passion than anyone I’ve played with.”
Said Dez: “He wanted me to calm down.... Everybody knows we should have won this game.”
Witten said he was yelling at Dez, which included pointing at the scoreboard, to remind him there was still time on the clock after the Lions’ final score. That they wanted Dez to be involved in their next play.
If they are over it, or pretend, you should, too. In the grand scheme of things Dez’s passion (temper?), or alleged lack of maturity, is not this team’s biggest problem. Dez “growing up” may rank 34th, if that high. It just looks bad and makes him look small.
Dez v. Megatron was just about as much fun as any individual NFL matchup could be, and proof the Cowboys have one of the best wide receivers. He’s just not Calvin Johnson, because no one is, and he does need to grasp that perception can be reality in a hurry.
Watching Johnson again embarrass the Cowboys is a painful reminder that Jerry Jones should have followed his gut in the 2007 draft and sold out to move up to select him. As much as Jerry hated paying top-10 picks, he loved Johnson and thought he was worth the risk. He was right. The Lions wouldn’t deal.
And Jerry was right about gambling on Dez in 2010. The man can play.
Don’t be distracted by his yelling and screaming on Sunday after he was not getting the ball enough (he wasn’t).
“He’s never complained to me about getting the ball,” quarterback Tony Romo said, in what may be one of the biggest lies tossed out Sunday.
Dez is an equal opportunity screamer.
“This is what I want you to do — go back when Terrance [Williams] scored a touchdown and look how I was acting then,” Dez said. “It’s the same thing. That’s what you have to have. You have to have that desire.”
Dez’s backers will say his antics are not that much different than Michael Irvin in his day. Dez’s detractors will say he is not that much different than Terrell Owens.
This man is not T.O. Dez may not be a pillar of conventional, stoic maturity, but he is not some idiot narcissist trying to divide a team with paranoid delusion.
Dez said he does not care about how his behavior looks on TV because it’s “all about passion and all about winning.”
He may be right to this point, but I’m not so sure his head coach agrees. Coach Process pulled Mr. Dez into a side room for a chat after the game. This sideline stuff was likely a topic of conversation. The Coach understands perception can become reality, which the player needs to understand works both ways.
Passion can look like immaturity quickly, especially if you’re losing.
The problem, especially as it relates to Sunday, is that Dez is just a man.
He is not 6-foot-5, 236 pounds with the wingspan of a pterodactyl and the vertical of a kangaroo like Calvin Johnson. Dez may be great, but he is human. I have no idea what Calvin Johnson is other than evidence that there is a God, and we are not all created equal.
By most definitions, Dez’s three catches for 72 yards and two touchdowns is a good game. He certainly made some fantasy owners happy. He even made LeBron James happy. He tweeted during the game after Dez’s first half TD grab: “Wow @DezBryant!! Go get it then.”
Johnson’s gear should be in Canton by the end of business today.
“He had a helluva game,” Dez said.
When a receiver has 14 receptions for 329 yards and one touchdown that is generally considered a pretty decent day. The Cowboys had 268 yards.
Poor Brandon Carr; the Cowboys’ veteran defensive back did everything he could to check Johnson, but it’s hard work stopping a superhero even if he does not wear a cape.
This week Dez tried to tell us he could do whatever Johnson can. He can’t. It’s not his fault.
The Cowboys have one of the best receivers in the game who happens to be a hothead but, thanks to semantics, we will settle for “passion.”
It’s OK. They bro-hugged it out.
After all, we all know they’ve got much bigger problems.