Gil LeBreton

Cowboys offense, Dez Bryant can’t monkey around with season

Dez Bryant was out of sync last week against the Seahawks in his first action since his injury.
Dez Bryant was out of sync last week against the Seahawks in his first action since his injury. Special to the S-T

When you’ve lost five in a row and are dead-last in the worst division in pro football, this qualified as a news flash this week:

Monkey gone, but Romo returns to practice.

No, you can’t make this stuff up. The Dallas Cowboys seem to have an unending supply of it.

Twitter. Instagram. The police blotter down at CSI: DeSoto. The Cowboys are everywhere but atop the NFC East.

What other NFL head coach had to answer the media’s question this week about a star player’s reported illegal pet monkey?

At least Jason Garrett knew Dez Bryant’s alleged monkey’s name, Dallas.

“I have not met Dallas,” Garrett said. “I’ve heard stories that he has a monkey. There has been visual evidence of that.”

By midweek Bryant’s Instagram account showed more than 53,000 views of the snapshot of him, presumably, cradling his baby capuchin monkey.

But much like the Cowboys’ passing game in Dez’s and Tony Romo’s injury absences, the monkey had vanished this week when authorities were asked to investigate.

Bryant himself was barely visible, too, last Sunday when the Cowboys failed to reach the end zone in a 13-12 loss to Seattle. Cornerback nuisance Richard Sherman posted himself just off Bryant’s hip and rode him like a family mule the entire day.

Wow, you had to think — Dez is not in shape.

But don’t take my word for it. Hall of Famer Michael Irvin said as much on ESPN radio’s Mike & Mike show.

“You saw it — that one deep ball that Dez and Sherm went up for,” Irvin said. “Dez didn’t get off the ground. He had no legs.

“I guarantee you that by the third series in that game, Dez was dead. He had nothing in him.”

Irvin’s radio assessment of Bryant’s post-injury condition: “about 70 percent.”

“He’s just working his way back from an injury,” Garrett told the media. “He hasn’t practiced or played in games up until last week. When you’re dealing with a player who’s coming back from an injury, you work through it day by day.”

For the Cowboys, in other words, the Miami game Nov. 22 can’t get here fast enough. That’s the allowed return date for Romo and may be the first time since Week One that Dez should look like Dez.

Does anybody doubt that quarterback Romo won’t hit the ground running? While it probably should have been expected that Bryant got tangled with Greg Hardy and PETA in recent weeks, Romo has seemed uber-involved on the sidelines, acting like another coach.

That can’t hurt. The Cowboys are going to need a full-throttle Romo and Bryant as they try to U-turn their season in the second half.

The monkey saga may have actually been a welcomed distraction after the way the offense and fill-in Matt Cassel performed against the Seahawks.

Owner Jones, as always, saw the monkey cage as half-full, not half-empty.

“I am a monkey fan,” Jones revealed on his weekly radio show on 105.3 The Fan. “I can stand in a zoo and look at them all day long and die laughing.

“My dad was in the wild animal business and had over 5,000 wild animals. And no matter what, he would always hand somebody a card and say, ‘Be sure to come out and visit my monkeys.’ 

It’s true. J.W. “Pat” Jones, the Cowboys owner’s father, started Wild Animal Safari on 500 acres of land he purchased near Strafford, Mo., in 1971. As with the now-closed Lion Country Safari in Grand Prairie, visitors could drive through the park’s nine-mile roadway and view the wildlife.

“One of the biggest issues was one time this monkey jumped up on the roof of a car,” Jones told The Fan. “People had their windows down on both sides. The monkey hit the driver’s side, went through the car and on his way by a little girl, pulled a bunch of her hair out. And, of course, that was quite a big issue.”

Fast forward 40 years, and the Jones family and a monkey are in the news again.

You can’t make this stuff up.

Gil LeBreton: 817-390-7697, glebreton@, @gilebreton

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