Mac Engel

Dez Bryant has proved to Cowboys he’s worth it

No player in the 2010 NFL Draft had more “off the field” or “character” concerns than Dez Bryant, which scared the Cowboys so much they made him their first-round pick.

Four years later, the Cowboys, who have seen the value Dez brings on the field, are reportedly so scared of the same issues they are not going to bury him in money to guarantee he stays here.

Doesn’t quite compute.

According to NFL.com’s predraft report on Dez, “There are some questions surrounding Bryant’s maturity level. Does not always show a high level of effort away from the ball. Was able to get open with pure athleticism in college but needs to run more precise routes at the next level.”

Jerry Jones was not going to get Randy Moss’d again. Jerry did as Jerry does, ignored the reports, and gambled that Dez would be worth it when he picked him 24th overall. Watching Dez abuse the Jacksonville Jaguars on Sunday in London was proof that Jerry was right.

Four years later, however, and the same reports that said teams should shy away from Dez are magically popping up again. Don’t buy any of it. This is about cash, and finding a number. Dez is going to get paid by the Cowboys, and it’s merely a question of when.

These concerns are the same as four years ago, and the continued and persistent airing of dirty family laundry has become completely ridiculous and borderline offensive.

The concerns no longer center around Dez, but his family. If we are to be evaluated and judged by our families ... God help us all. On some level, everybody’s family is a train wreck, but they’re ours and we deal with it. We’ve got a crazy uncle, our mom is nuts, or our dad is passive aggressive. I’ve got a cousin, whom I’ve never met, somewhere who was disowned and made the talk-show rounds.

The reports — “concerns” — about Dez’s family are embarrassing, and quite frankly none of our business. There was some report about a baby being left in a trunk, which, if Dez is responsible, is an entirely different issue. But he wasn’t, so at what point is he to be judged simply on his behavior and not punished for his relatives?

You can pick your nose, but you can’t pick your relatives. Lord knows there are days when all of us would take that option rather than have to spend one more holiday with our next of kin.

According to scouts who knew Dez coming out of Oklahoma State, his background was exceptionally difficult. While we may use this as dinner-table conversation, this is a dude’s life and these are his loved ones. You don’t think he knows that on some level some of this is a little atypical, or dysfunctional?

Dez is no different than a lot of young men who enter the high cash world of pro sports — they immediately become the patriarch as 20-year-olds, something most of us can never conceive.

So scouts, talent evaluators, media and fans all get to play character judges about the fears of family, friends and entourages. Sometimes the fears are legit, while oftentimes they’re overkill.

For instance, former Cowboys coach Bill Parcells always wanted to know about a quarterback’s father.

Dez Bryant is not the first player to play for Jerry Jones who had a challenging off-the-field circumstances, and made dumb decisions. Since when has that stopped Jerry?

Dez has had nothing off the field for years, and while his family may be noisy and a bit off the rails, join the club. The “crazy family” gene is not endemic to one race, color, creed or improved dramatically by the size of a bank statement.

Jerry knows all about crazy family. Jerry is the same man who paid millions of dollars for the likes of Marion Barber, Roy Williams I, Roy Williams II, Jay Ratliff, DeMarcus Ware, Kyle Orton and many others to go away. Jerry paid Tony Romo a fortune after he had back surgery.

Do you really think, given Jerry’s history, he is not going to make Dez Bryant one of the highest-paid players at his position? Jerry was the one who looked the other way on draft day about Dez’s “off-the-field concerns.” After dealing with Dez for the last four years, there is no way Jerry is going to let those same “issues” get in the way of keeping Dez around at a happy price.

If the Cowboys were going to be concerned about Dez, it was four years ago when he was an unknown NFL commodity going into the draft. Now the Cowboys have seen firsthand what Dez is worth to their franchise. Don’t believe they are going to let a crazy uncle get in the way of keeping him around.

Follow Mac Engel on The Big Mac Blog at star-telegram.com/sports/.

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