Dez Bryant wants to make it perfectly clear: He is a team player who wants nothing except to win.
The Dallas Cowboys’ fourth-year receiver insists his sideline demonstrations Sunday had nothing to do with Tony Romo targeting him only six times. It had nothing to do with Calvin Johnson having the second-biggest receiving day in NFL history either.
Bryant said it had everything to do with the Cowboys enduring another frustrating loss, failing to finish in a gut-wrenching 31-30 defeat to the Detroit Lions.
Bryant talked for some 15 minutes Monday, explaining his sideline behavior that drew national attention, criticism and debate. He said he is misunderstood outside the locker room.
“This is a team game, and I think everybody in this locker room knows where my mind and my heart is,” said Bryant, who had three catches for 72 yards and two touchdowns. “It’s all about winning. At the end of the day, that’s what it’s about. The reality is we’re 4-4, and it feels like we’re better than that.
“I didn’t say … anything wrong. When we were winning, if you go back and look at the game, I had the same demeanor. It was that killer mentality, and each and every game, not only this game, but even in past games, I always tell the O-line and everybody else, ‘Let’s keep that same mentality, same mentality, same mentality.’”
The Cowboys have defended Bryant, repeatedly referring to Bryant’s passion and his will to win. But coach Jason Garrett did talk with Bryant after the game, explaining to Bryant that he needs to better use his emotion and enthusiasm.
“Dez is as well liked a guy on our football team by his teammates and by the coaching staff,” Garrett said. “He’s very passionate about the game. He loves football. He loves his football team, and he wants to win. One of the things he has to learn is to channel all that positive stuff — all that positive emotion — he has to channel it and focus it to the task at hand.
“… He has matured a lot since he’s been with our football team, and that’s an area where he has to get better. It’s something we addressed with him during the game, something we addressed with him after the game, but you never want to take away that passion, that spirit that he has.”
TV cameras twice caught sideline rants by Bryant.
In the third quarter, Bryant appeared to express his displeasure at Romo. Bryant said he was not demanding the ball, though he had only two catches for 22 yards to that point.
Then, after the Lions scored the go-ahead touchdown with 12 seconds left, Bryant had a heated exchange with tight end Jason Witten. Defensive end DeMarcus Ware, who was inactive, stepped in between the two and attempted to calm Bryant.
Bryant said his relationship with Witten and Romo remains unchanged. He still loves both like brothers.
“The relationship me, Tony and Witt have — it’s huge,” Bryant said. “Our relationship is great. Each and every week, we go out to eat. On and off the field, it’s outstanding. I think what most people don’t get is everything is supposed to be peaches and cream during games. There’s always something that doesn’t go right the way you think it should. It’s the nature of football, period.
“Witt did nothing wrong to me. Tony did nothing wrong to me. Witt loves me like if I was his little brother. Tony loves me like if I was his little brother. And I love them for just being in my life, helping me change a lot in my life, helping me see different things about myself that I didn’t see.”
Bryant said he has no regrets about his sideline rants, insisting he will continue to wear his emotions on the sleeves of his No. 88 jersey.
“No regrets,” he said. “It’s all love. Like I said, I know it looks crazy, but I promise you all it’s not.”