If you ever wonder why a legion of pro jocks, and fans, absolutely deplore and hate the media look no further than the case of The Overzealous Media v. Dez Bryant.
As much as I will and do defend the many good people who make up this profession, in this latest case there is no excuse. What is going on with the Dez Bryant story is the latest example of idle conjecture masquerading as “reporting” by a bunch of people who should read To Kill a Mockingbird before the sequel is released.
Last week, Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk and NBC Sunday Night Football fame appeared on 105.3 The Fan on the Shan & RJ show and said that all of the major football insiders have known for months of an explosive story that involves a videotape of Dez doing...something. That’s supposedly why the Cowboys have been hesitant to give Bryant a monster extension.
It gets better.
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“I don’t know that it does exist,” Florio said. “I’m telling you that’s what the talk has been....No one has reported on any of the details.”
Florio’s speculation about speculation went viral, so now people following this story believe there is indeed some nefarious explanation why the Cowboys won’t give Dez his extension.
To recap: A story so big and potentially so explosive, that includes a videotape, has not been reported by the Star-Telegram, ESPNDallas.com, the Dallas Morning News, The Ticket, The Fan, ESPN Dallas Radio, FW Weekly, NFL Network, D Magazine, Cat Fancy, Sports Illustrated, ESPN, Fox Sports, NBC, CBS, Pro Football Talk, Adam Schefter, Peter King, Chris Mortensen, Jay Glazer or the always discreet TMZ. And major football media insiders have known about this for months.
In our need to fill content, this faux report is now acceptable. This is akin to saying, “Big Foot could exist. Or it may not. I don’t know. But the chatter is Big Foot is coming to kill us all.”
If Big Foot wearing a No. 88 jersey does exist, the media’s job is to report on it. Dez Bryant is a public figure, and if there is a reason that the Cowboys are reluctant to give him a long-term extension, it is a story. To say otherwise is denial, and blind support simply because you like the guy and don’t want bad things said about him.
To report without any proof that Big Foot may exist is irresponsible, careless, reckless and another example of an overzealous media that technology, business and people created and enable. To “report” that Big Foot may exist, in this case, only damages a guy for the sake of helping your career at the expense of another...for the sake of what?
When it comes to something like this, particularly in a Ray Rice-videotape world, it’s better to follow the immortal words of Harper Lee from To Kill a Mockingbird: “You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view...Until you climb inside of his skin and walk around in it.”
Every journalist has goofed before and will again (guilty as charged), but it’s always better to not know than to be wrong. Ask Brian Williams.
Because Dez is Dez, he took to Twitter to defend himself against speculation. He wrote: “Just quit with the B.S. We all know what’s going on. I might need to do (an) exclusive interview about my life these past 5 years since the world is destined to know. I used to let people take advantage of my life. Now that I’m no longer allowing that to happen, it seems to be a problem. I’m not ashamed of none of my past incidents because that’s what made me who I am today.”
No. 1: Dez, if you want to do an exclusive, give me a call.
No. 2: This tweet encourages more speculation that there is a Big Foot lurking. If we are “destined to know,” what is it?
To be fair, the whole thing is odd, and it is a mystery why this deal is not done. It does not add up.
Historically, the Cowboys prefer to bury their favorite players, even the mediocre ones, in contract extensions the year before they can become a free agent. Roy Williams I. Roy Williams II. Marion Barber. Terence Newman. Miles Austin. Jay Ratliff. The Cowboys waiting this long on this deal is not normal.
They did, however, wait with linebacker Anthony Spencer, on whom they used the franchise tag in 2012 and 2013. At the time, there was no speculation of videotapes, or explosive stories as to why the Cowboys went with one-year deals over an extension. That was just about money.
But Dez’s story is not Spencer’s. Dez has had a few off-the-field incidents since his arrival with the Cowboys, ranging from the naive to family drama. His past off-the-field behavior, which we are now years removed from, gives pause to consider that maybe the team is hesitant for precisely that reason.
Cowboys owner Jerry Jones told a handful of local reporters at the NFL Combine that “off-the-field issues are not a consideration in any situation with any player as far as what we’re doing with our contracts.”
If this is the case, it’s about cash. Chances are good Dez wants to be the highest-paid receiver in the game, and the Cowboys don’t want to go there.
It does not mean there is a videotape, an explosive story or that Big Foot in an 88 jersey exists. All three may actually exist, and then it needs to be reported. Until we know for sure, all of us just need to shut up.
Listen to Mac Engel every Tuesday and Thursday on Shan & RJ from 5:30-10 a.m. on 105.3 The Fan.
Mac Engel, 817-390-7697
Twitter: @macengelprof and The Big Mac Blog