Dez Bryant’s tirade against reporters on Thursday wasn’t handled properly, Cowboys coach Jason Garrett acknowledged Friday.
Bryant made national headlines for his locker room blow up, which escalated when teammate and receiver Devin Street told Bryant that a reporter used a racial slur against him. That accusation was uncorroborated by any members of the media or the Cowboys’ public relations staff within earshot.
Garrett made a brief appearance in the locker room in which Bryant used the term “dirty” nine times in reference to media members, and then Bryant and Garrett left the locker room.
“Well, to me, it’s a great teaching opportunity for us as coaches and a great learning opportunity for Dez and really for our whole football team,” Garrett said. “That’s what we’ve tried to do is use it as an opportunity to get better. We didn’t handle that situation the right way. Dez didn’t handle that situation the right way.
“We have to understand the world that we live in, and we’ve tried to make that abundantly clear to him and to our football team. Again, we’re going to use this as an opportunity to get better and handle those situations going forward.”
Asked if he was more bothered by Bryant’s meltdown in the locker room or his later posts on Twitter, Garrett said: “Again, we just have to understand the world that we live in and we have to handle ourselves better. We talked to Dez very directly about that, but again, we use this as an opportunity for our team to teach them.
“You’ve heard me say this before: It’s our job as coaches to try to shape a mindset and a mentality and to shape behavior both on and off the football field. We’ll continue to do that. I believe that 100 percent of our guys do things the right way about 98 percent of the time. What we need to do as coaches is to make sure they understand what the expectations are for their conduct and behavior on the field, their conduct and behavior off the field and when they don’t do things the right way, we’re going to let them know.
“We’re going to get them back and hold them to that standard. That’s what the case was here. It’s certainly behind us. It was addressed directly with the individual involved – Dez – and also with our football team, and we’re going forward.”
Owner Jerry Jones also addressed the situation on his radio show Friday morning. Jones didn’t offer much of an opinion, saying he didn’t know the full context of the situation.
“I really wasn’t of course was not there, and I don’t know that Jason was in there when it was going on,” Jones said on 105.3 The Fan. “The most important thing is you guys know my attitude about this stuff and how to handle it. I’ve made D’s and F’s and C-plusses over the years, but the way I handle it is my reply. You guys know how I answer your questions and when I get mad, how I get mad. We’ve got to know there’s another day, that’s the only thing.”
Jones added that he has a more personal relationship with Bryant than most, and has a better understanding when the star receiver lets his emotions and passion boil over.
“I probably have a tolerance for the way he expresses himself that you can’t expect people who don’t know him in a real up close and personal way would,” Jones said. “And not that mine is the right thing to be, maybe you can be too close to something some times, but because I am close, because I’ve spent a lot of time with him, I understand his responses.”
There is no question that the six-game losing streak is weighing on the locker room and Jones. The Cowboys entered the season with Super Bowl expectations, but are now facing an uphill battle to even make the playoffs.
Losing quarterback Tony Romo to a broken left collarbone for seven weeks, of course, has been the overriding storyline of their failures.
Jones said he, like Bryant, has gotten “testy” this season.
“Yes, yes very testy. I’m really, really, and I’m saying this seriously, that guy in that mirror and you heard me speak to him a lot of times, that guy in that mirror I am irritated with a lot,” Jones said. “We’re where we are, so the thing you have to do whether it be a football game or whether it be something else, you just have to put that next foot out and go look for ways that do it different or do it better, but the main thing is you’ve just got to bow up and go.
“Nobody is feeling sorry for ourselves at all.”