Dallas Cowboys

Dez Bryant has slowed down off the field, ready for special season

Cowboys cornerback Orlando Scandrick, left, tries to cover wide receiver Dez Bryant during practice on Wednesday at The Star in Frisco.
Cowboys cornerback Orlando Scandrick, left, tries to cover wide receiver Dez Bryant during practice on Wednesday at The Star in Frisco. mfaulkner@star-telegram.com

Excuse Dallas Cowboys receiver Dez Bryant for being a little nostalgic and saying a little too much after practice Wednesday.

Newly crowned Indianapolis 500 winner Takuma Sato made an appearance at the Cowboys headquarters at the Star in Frisco and Bryant revealed the fastest he’s ever clocked on the speedometer, “back in his heyday.”

Just know he hesitated. At first.

“I’m gonna do it. I’m gonna do it. I’m gonna say it. You know, I just – I don’t do it anymore,” Bryant said with a sheepish grin. “When I first got my license, I got it suspended for a year because I was going a little bit too fast, if you know. The fastest I have been, I have gone probably about 180.”

It was in his Bentley and he was pulled over by police, but surprisingly didn’t get a ticket.

“When I got pulled over it was pretty cool,” Bryant said. “The cop said ‘I couldn’t catch you. I had to turn my lights off to get up with you.’ He didn’t give me a ticket. He thought it was pretty cool, too. It was good. He was a good sport.”

After being questioned about it on Twitter for admitting such reckless behavior, Bryant responded by noting it was in the past.

And there ended the first so-called off-field controversy involving Bryant this off-season – save for a few posts about personal accountability within the African-American race.

It’s speaks to Bryant’s maturity, focus and motivation at the age of 28, heading into his eighth season as healthy as he’s been in three years and excited about being on the best team of his career.

The younger Bryant, who got caught in battles with rapper Lil Wayne, who was banned from the North Park Center for sagging pants and had the domestic issue with his mom among other things, is now gone.

This Bryant doesn’t go out as much and his Instagram and Twitter timelines are no longer dotted with parties.

“I think that is just things that naturally happen over time,” Bryant said. “You just start putting things in perspective. All I want to do is be better. You have to go until you can’t go anymore.”

Bryant’s passion and honesty is what makes him who he is. That’s why he couldn’t hold back about his fast driving.

His revelations have gotten him in trouble at times, but it’s why his teammates and coaches continue to stand by him and support him.

Coach Jason Garrett said Bryant has grown and matured, like every player does. He knows how to be a professional now and manage better the things in his life.

Garrett said the personal relationship he has with Bryant through all their experiences has made his own life better.

“I just think we’re closer and closer,” Garrett said of his relationship with Bryant. “Dez is such a relational type person. He really loves people, he loves his teammates, he loves his coaches, he loves being around this place. That’s why everyone is so drawn to him. I think that has deepened our relationship. It’s made it a more intimate relationship in such a positive way. He certainly makes my life better.”

Bryant has shown that passion and growth this off-season with his attitude and presence in practice since the end of the 2016 season. He has bonded with quarterback Dak Prescott through daily sessions.

“I have seen a motivated, hungry go-getter in Dez,” Prescott said. “I’m so excited for what he can do this year and how he has handled it all the way back to March.”

This is his Bryant’s first full and healthy off-season since 2014 because of a contract dispute before the 2015 season and rehabbing from foot surgery last year.

And after catching at least 88 passes a season from 2012-2014, Bryant caught a combined 81 passes the past two seasons because of injuries.

But he ended last season on a hot streak, including nine catches for 132 yards and two touchdowns in a divisional playoff loss to the Green Bay Packers.

Bryant plans to build on that this season and regain his place as one of the league’s best receivers.

“The way that I feel now, I’m not dealing with really anything,” Bryant said. “I feel damn good. I know once I’m 100 [percent], I’m hard to deal with.”

But it’s not a personal thing with Bryant, it’s about the team. He said this is the best Cowboys team he’s ever played on and can’t wait until the start of training camp with the hopes of going a step further than last year, possibly reaching the Super Bowl for the first time since 1995.

“I’ve never been [more] ready for training camp,” Bryant said. “I’m ready to lead. I’m ready to get back and I’m ready for the season to start. I’m praying every day. I just want me, this whole team, to be injury-free just because we got something special. The sky can be the limit for us.”     

Clarence Hill: 817-390-7760, @clarencehilljr


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