Wide receiver Dez Bryant broke his self-imposed, monthlong ban on talking with the news media Thursday afternoon, declaring himself healthy and ready for the Dallas Cowboys’ season opener against the New York Giants on Sunday night.
“Feels good to be out at practice, better yet feels good preparing for the first regular-season game,” said Bryant, who sat out the entire preseason with a hamstring injury. “You know, just excited to be back with my teammates.”
Those were the first words spoken by Bryant to reporters since early August when he initially injured his hamstring. He had blown off media members, mostly because he felt his “passion” had been negatively portrayed by some following his involvement in a joint practice fight between the Cowboys and St. Louis Rams on Aug. 18.
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Bryant seemed somewhat irritated by a couple questions during his roughly nine-minute media session Thursday, but also opened up about a Rolling Stone article that dug into the depths of his upbringing, how his new $70 million contract wouldn’t change him and his comfort level with Tony Romo despite not playing in a preseason game together.
A lot of [my teammates] already knew a lot of stuff that I’ve dealt with, what I’ve been through and a lot of guys always have love for me and they always will. Real recognize real and that’s what it’s been.
Dez Bryant on his upbringing
The Rolling Stone article generated buzz about Bryant, as he told the story of his childhood that included his mom being impregnated at age 14 by her mother’s boyfriend at the time.
“I’m a real dude, man,” Bryant said. “I’m going to let that speak for itself. … I’m a human being and, you know, I just spoke real about my life.”
Bryant said the reaction he has received from the article, both from fans and teammates, has been overwhelmingly positive. He also hopes the article helps explain why he is so passionate about football.
“There’s a reason if you see someone being certain ways, there’s probably a reason for the actions,” Bryant said. “I think that’s where my passion comes from. I direct it in something that I love, and that’s football. I think that’s what got me where I’m at today, so I let out a lot of that frustration and anger and put it in a positive way as far as something I love and that’s the game of football.
“A lot of [my teammates] already knew a lot of stuff that I’ve dealt with, what I’ve been through and a lot of guys always have love for me and they always will. Real recognize real and that’s what it’s been.”
Bryant caught a franchise-record 16 TD passes last season, giving him three consecutive seasons with double-digit receiving TDs.
Wide receiver Cole Beasley hasn’t had time to read the article yet, but is well aware of Bryant’s dysfunctional upbringing.
“I know he’s been through a lot and that’s what makes him who he is,” Beasley said. “I feel like without football he might have been going somewhere he shouldn’t be, and I think he knows that, and I think he appreciates the game that much more because of that.
“So you can definitely see why he brings the passion he does every day.”
And money is certainly not going to change that.
Bryant chuckled when told that several players lose their passion and fire once they get paid handsomely. Bryant vowed that won’t happen even though he became one of the highest-paid receivers in the game this off-season with a five-year, $70 million contract with $45 million in guarantees.
“Who wouldn’t be happy? Of course I’m happy, but I’m not satisfied with what I got,” Bryant said. “It just makes me want to go harder, become a better player. I always feel like I never have it. I think that’s another reason why I do the things that I do because I always feel like you can always be better.
“I always want to be a better player. As soon as you feel like you have it … good luck.”
Bryant set a franchise record with 16 touchdown receptions last season, making it three consecutive double-digit receiving touchdown seasons.
He has also surpassed the 1,200-yard receiving mark the past three seasons.
That, more than anything, is why nobody is concerned about Bryant’s ability to pick up where he left off despite missing time with Romo.
“We all are not only hoping for that, but know that’s going to happen,” tight end Jason Witten said. “That’s the way he prepares, that’s the way he’s played. He’s done it throughout an entire career.”
Added offensive coordinator Scott Linehan: “Dez has worked extremely hard to get ready for this week and this Sunday and it’s great to have him back for sure. That’s an understatement.”
Drew Davison, 817-390-7760