The Cowboys are overjoyed that Dez Bryant has reported to camp on time, without the distraction of an unsettled contract for the star receiver. As Jason Garrett left Wednesday’s opening press conference, he ran into Bryant walking on the grounds at the Residence Inn.
“What the hell?” Garrett yelled, smiling. “Good to see you, man!”
The coach and his receiver shared a handshake and a man hug -- their first interaction since Bryant signed a new contract -- before owner Jerry Jones rolled through on a golf cart.
“Dez! Dez! Come over here!” Jones yelled to Bryant.
“Got to see the big man,” Garrett told Bryant.
Gene Jones, Jerry’s wife, congratulated Bryant, and Bryant and Jones shared a few words before Jones departed. Garrett and Bryant then talked for a few minutes before the team meeting.
“We love Dez,” Garrett said during the press conference. “Dez has been a great football player for us, and Dez is one of those guys who you love to have on your football team. He’s a great teammate, has a tremendous passion for the game, works hard, a competitor, his spirit is contagious. So I thought Dez did a really good job, I thought our organization did a really good job, and our team did a really good job handling that situation this spring. That’s the business of the NFL. I thought all parties involved, his teammates, our ownership and then Dez himself, just handled that the right way. We worked our way through it, and now he’s going to be here for Day 1 of camp. He’s a special player. He’s a special guy. We love him. We’re excited to have him here on Day 1.”
The Cowboys’ star receiver signed a five-year, $70 million contract with $45 million guaranteed, including $20 million to sign, on July 15. It was the final day he could sign a long-term deal, and Bryant had threatened to sit out into the regular season in protest of having to play 2015 under the one-year, franchise-tender tag of $12.8 million.
But the sides worked out an agreement at the 11th hour, and Bryant showed up ready to practice.
“I think it’s a big deal [he’s here],” executive vice president Stephen Jones said. “The Dez Watch would have been something that was not welcome I’m sure by Coach Garrett, by his teammates, certainly by Jerry and myself. We wanted to avoid that and Dez is a huge part of this football team. He’s a big reason for our success last year, the energy he brings to not only the field during a game, but to a practice field, to a workout, to a meeting, just his presence is a big deal. I think to have him here from Day 1 was a big part of what was pushing us as well. He’s a leader on this team. He’s a big part of it, and we wanted to have him here.”
Charean Williams, 817-390-7760