Tablet Sports

Gil LeBreton: Show Dez the money

For the second time in his five-year NFL career, Dez Bryant has fired Eugene Parker as his agent.

The move, coming after Bryant and Parker ceased contract talks with the Dallas Cowboys following the exhibition season, appears to speak volumes.

Clearly, there are things young Bryant wants and places he wants to be.

He wants to be a brand, he told reporters last week. He wants to be an inspiration for young people and “an icon.”

He wants the football. He wants a championship.

But make no mistake now about Desmond Demond Bryant — he wants the money.

Why else would he be abandoning Parker for the second time and signing with Roc Nation Sports Agency, owned by rapper, entrepreneur and husband-of-Beyoncé Jay Z?

Bryant’s original NFL contract — five years, $11.8 million — runs out at the end of the 2014 season. Efforts by owner Jerry Jones and son to sign him to a low-ball Cowboys extension were rebuffed throughout the summer, and Bryant announced that he wouldn’t reopen contract discussions until after the season.

But like a rap song without punctuation, Roc Nation apparently swept over the talented receiver and changed his mind.

Bryant, born into a troubled family situation, said he was struck by the similarities between him and Shawn Corey Carter, better known as Jay Z.

“He was one of those guys who came from nothing, and look at him now,” Bryant said. “All he wants to do is help. He understands me. He understands the things I want to do.

“I want to show the world who I really am.”

There should be no doubt now, not after the scrutiny that Bryant has been subjected to for five seasons, that Dez’s heart is in the right place.

I have to confess: I like the kid. He’s friendly. His passion — for football, for life, even for talking to us strangers in the media — is energizing.

His uniform number, 88, is not the only coincidence. Bryant is like a young Michael Irvin, minus Michael’s dark side.

As a guy was saying after Cowboys practice at Allianz Park this week: “Dez’s energy is infectious. His heart is infectious. He plays hard all the time.

“He’ll yes-sir and no-sir you. You look at him and say, ‘Such a great guy. It is infectious.’ ”

The Dez fan who said that? Michael Irvin, No. 88.

Bryant, said Irvin, needs to play his full career in a Cowboys uniform. But Irvin wonders now, after the timing on the news about Dez again switching agents.

“I don’t know if the word ‘planned’ is what I would use as opposed to ‘a little concerning,’ ” Irvin said, “because you were probably in a pretty good place and working on a deal with your old guy.

“Now all of that work is thrown aside and you start over new because, of course, any other guy that comes in, he’s not just trying to get your deal, he’s also trying to build his career ... and maybe shake people up.”

Fellow receiver Victor Cruz fired his agent in March 2013, and signed with Roc Nation. In July of that year, Cruz agreed to a five-year, $45.88-million contract extension.

Bryant has said he wants no part of the Cowboys’ franchise tag.

“That would disappoint me,” he has told reporters.

There will be no hometown discount, in other words. Bryant, as he said, wants to be an icon for kids, but also a rich icon.

Respected veteran agent Tom Condon reportedly will become Bryant’s negotiator with the Jones family. The Jay Z affiliation, Dez explained, is a way of “branding myself and getting people to know my story.”

Irvin, however, isn’t as impressed with Dez’s new friend.

“Well it sounds good, and everybody says things when they’re selling you,” Irvin said. “But usually the best way to go about it is to say, ‘Give me some evidence of what you’ve done and who you’ve promoted away from the field.’

“I don’t know. Maybe these guys are great and everything. But I don’t know enough about them, and I don’t know who they’ve promoted away from the field to make me say, ‘Woo! Look at the job you’ve done with him. Put my name in that hat.’

“If they have, maybe I just missed it.”

It’s going to be up to Owner Jones and son Stephen to see if they can squeeze an expected $13 million per year out of the salary cap to pay Bryant.

Make no mistake: Dez wants his inspiring story to be told. He wants the football.

But Dez Bryant, with his new high-profile agent, also wants the money.

Start looking for it, Owner Jones.

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