Dez Bryant's character flaws prompt Cowboys to set up strict off-the-field guidelines

IRVING -- When Dez Bryant's lawyer, Royce West, publicly declared in July that his client didn't commit family violence against his mother a little more than a week before the Dallas Cowboys receiver was to depart for training camp, there was never a claim of innocence -- from the standpoint of Bryant's character.

Nothing has ever been innocent about Bryant, from his displaced childhood in Lufkin to lies he told to the NCAA that got him banned from football at Oklahoma State to the string of controversies he has been embroiled in since joining the Cowboys.

The Dallas County district attorney's office has yet to decide whether to pursue misdemeanor family violence charges against Bryant for the July 14 incident against his mother, Angela. She has signed a waiver, declining to pursue charges.

But the Cowboys and Bryant don't need a court proceeding to know that this escalating pattern of behavior, which could wreck his life -- let alone his football career -- needs to stop.

According to his adviser, David Wells, the Cowboys are setting up strict guidelines to help Bryant manage and remake his life. They include:

■ No consumption of alcohol

■ No attending strip clubs

■ Attending weekly counseling sessions

■ A full-time security team to take Bryant to and from practice and escort him when he is out after midnight

This is not just about the Cowboys putting restrictions on Bryant. Those closest to him, including West, Wells and his agent, Eugene Parker, agree that the stipulations are necessary.

"We have some things in place and we are still in the process of working out the rest," Wells said. "We are all working together to accomplish some things to help him succeed."

Wells will set up the security team as he did when the Cowboys wanted one for Adam "Pacman" Jones when he was with the team in 2008.

The similarities end there, as Jones already was considered a poster child for bad-boy behavior in the NFL. He had already served a year-long suspension for violating the NFL's personal conduct policy.

That was a reclamation project.

This is an effort to save Bryant's life and career before it gets to that point.

What it's also not about is an attempt to curry favor with the district attorney's office or NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, who still could discipline Bryant.

"We are going to help him as a man," a source close to Bryant said. "If you treat the man first, the rest will come later."

It also must be noted that Bryant is a man willing to be helped. He has agreed to the guidelines, which are voluntary rather than mandatory.

Nothing in the NFL Players Association guidelines allows a team to forcibly restrict a player's comings and goings.

"He is part of the process," a source said. "He knows it's in his best interest. It shows that he is willing to be held accountable."

Bryant admits that he has made mistakes. He understands that he needs to make better decisions, better choices and know how to keep his emotions in check.

He gets it.

Now he just wants some patience and privacy while he goes through the process of remaking his life and saving his career.

"Dez is making better decisions and he is learning from it," Wells said. "With this he is just taking better precautions about his moves and whereabouts and the Cowboys support what he is trying to do. All he is doing is asking for support from the Cowboys, his loved ones and the fans."

If all goes according to plan, what was hoped to be a breakout season for Bryant on the field in 2012 also might coincide with him making a breakthrough in managing his life.

Clarence E. Hill Jr., 817-390-7760

Twitter: @clarencehilljr

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