Wide receiver Dez Bryant has repeatedly tweeted that he was "unbothered" by the Dallas Cowboys decision to release him.
But the more Bryant tweeted and talked after being cut on Friday, his personal feelings of being hurt, disappointed and disrespected came to light.
He said he wasn’t offered a pay cut and the situation was unfair to him in how the Cowboys handled the decision.
“I’m not here to bash anybody, but they know, man,” Bryant told Jane Slater of NFL Network in an interview Friday night. “They know. The way this whole situation got handled, I felt like I asked some of them to be a man about some of the situations a long time ago, and they couldn’t. I’m not talking about no players, because all the players we A1. That’s one thing that we did. We learned from one another. They couldn’t. I’m trying my best to sugarcoat it, but I can’t.”
More to the point, Bryant blamed coach Jason Garrett and his coaching staff as well as some former teammates for playing a role in his departure.
Bryant was openly critical of offensive coordinator Scott Linehan at the end of the season. The Cowboys let receivers coach Derek Dooley go and replaced him with Sanjay Lal.
“Hey, I’m a direct guy. I only know one way to be. I wake up, sleep, breathe football,” Bryant said. “If somebody don’t like me, I would love to know that. I think you’re supposed to go about it that way, learn how to respect and work with somebody even if you don’t like that person. I did it. . . . I’m not here to bash anybody, but I’ve got to keep it real. I always kept it real.
"Jerry Jones, he loved me to death, and I loved him, too. I honestly did. I honestly believe in my heart this was a hard decision for him. When it’s five to six guys at a table against one guy, you’ve got to do it. Like Jerry told me in our meeting, he didn’t ask me to take a pay cut. He didn’t want that. That further lets me believe what I thought a long time ago."
“I don’t know. I don’t want to say it’s emotional. I’m not trying to call anybody out, but at the same time, this situation was very unfair to me. It was an unfair situation because if they did want to get rid of me, they could have told me that. They could have told me that, and I would have respected it. Just like I told Jerry in the meeting, I respect his decision.”
Beyond the coaching staff, Bryant shockingly took aim at some of his former teammates, particularly the captains whom he called “Garrett guys."
The Cowboys’ captains in 2017 were tight end Jason Witten, quarterback Dak Prescott, kicker Dan Bailey, defensive end Tyrone Crawford, linebacker Sean Lee and cornerback Orlando Scandrick. Scandrick also was released this off-season and has joined the Washington Redskins.
“I’ll say this right here: I believe that Garrett’s guys [worked against him]. I would say that,” Bryant said. “I believe that. I truly believe that. I won’t put no names out, but they know, and I want them to know on this air I know. I’ll shoot them a text message and let them know. Little do they know is they can wear that ‘C’ [for captain] all they want to, but in that locker room, they know who they run and they talk to. They know who they communicate with.
"Everybody know where the real love is at, and I’m not throwing anybody under the bus, but that’s the difference between me and them.”
Witten had nothing but good things to say about Bryant in February, saying it wasn't fair to scapegoat Bryant for the Cowboys' shortcomings last season.
"I do believe Dez can be a premier receiver again,” Witten said during his inaugural Jason Witten Man of the Year event. “Look, we didn’t perform at a high level offensively, all of us didn’t. It’s easy to point to that, but really we didn’t play at the level we expect to. I’ve seen him practice, I’ve seen him work, I know he can play the position at a high level.
“As you get older, you become smarter and more knowledgeable and those are things that Dez is going to use to his advantage. Certainly he can still play at a high level. I don’t know if there’s anybody out there that can high-point the football quite like he does.”
Now Bryant will be high-pointing the football for another team. Bryant could even be teaming up with Scandrick again. Bryant said he wants to sign with a team in the NFC East and face the Cowboys twice a year.
‘I won’t say any teams but being in the division, that's a huge possibility,” Bryant said. “It’s a new chapter for me. It’s a new chapter and I’m ready to play ball, and I think I got an extra boost to want to do good, to want to get my body right, to want to perform at the highest level. I got something to prove to those coaches. I think they done came up with too much talk about me already. I’m ready to just prove them wrong.”