The Big Mac Blog

In defense of Dez Bryant and those who stand

Anyone who says Cowboys wide receiver Dez Bryant is not reporter friendly is part of the lying, dishonest #fakenews media.

Ask anyone who has covered Dez Bryant since he joined the Dallas Cowboys, or even those who covered him when he was an Oklahoma State Cowboy, and we will all tell you he is available. That he is polite. He is raw. He is funny. Candid. And he tries to help us out.

These days, you can’t ask much more.

It was with great disappointment to read Thursday when long-time ESPN pundit Jemele Hill took to Twitter to express displeasure over the fact that Dez Bryant has been a relative no-show when it comes to commenting over the continuing Colin Kapernick debate:

Dez is always Twitter aware, so he shot back:

Dez’s Tweet is 100 percent fair.

If it’s so easy to kneel and potentially lose your job, you do it.

Full disclosure: I think I have listened to Jemele Hill maybe twice. I don’t know her TV work at all. I’ve never read her work, either. I shy from the ESPN talking heads. The pundits no longer report, or talk to the people they cover; they make so much money they no longer have to report, and they are in a location — Bristol, Conn. — that makes it logistically difficult to go to a game.

Hill is no dope, lasted a long time in a cutthroat job, heard God only knows how many nasty comments thrown, and is valued by her employer. You respect that.

She could say the sun rises in the North and I would not know it because, frankly, I don’t care. Equally, I am sure she has no clue who I am.

Her jab at Dez was misplaced. Hill’s point about Dez Bryant unintentionally undermining his fellow NFL players who want to join Kapernick’s protest movement by kneeling during the national anthem, or speaking out against the fact Kap is on the streets without a team, is simply a miss.

For obvious reasons, a lot of African-American sports journalists are interested in the Kapernick story. It has unveiled the worst about American sports. An NFL owner will give a wife-beater a second chance, and a paycheck, but not a decent QB who protests the mistreatment of fellow African Americans by law enforcement.

On Thursday at The Star in Frisco, Bryant delivered a 14-minute talk to defend his position to stand for the national anthem rather than sit. That he respects those who sit, or stand.

“I’m not criticizing nobody. They’re free to do whatever they want,” Bryant told reporters on Thursday. “Hell, no, I’m not doing none of that (in terms of criticizing them). Their beliefs are their beliefs, and I’m not saying they’re wrong because they’re feeling a certain way. They’re supposed to.

“I’m just saying, ‘OK, I want to lead by example by doing positive.’ I’m not saying what they’re doing is wrong. I just have my ways of going about things.’”

Not everyone is built to do what Kapernick did, or does. Not everyone is equipped, or wants to, talk about this sensitive issue for fear of alienating their employer.

To suggest, however, that Dez Bryant has not suffered similar racial inequalities as Kapernick in his life is stupid. This is a guy who got in trouble for walking with saggy jeans at North Park Mall in Dallas, even though a fleet of white women routinely wear far less in that exact same locale causing not trouble but merely second and third looks.

Not everyone is built to join a rebellion, or a movement. It does not mean they will not benefit from those who kneel, or that they are not suffering in their own way, either.

Rest assured, some of Kap’s fellow NFL African-American colleagues, present or past, appreciate what he tried to do. He took one for the team. Whether or not it works is a different issue.

For NFL players who choose to kneel, Godspeed.

For guys like Dez and the majority who choose to stand, anyone gets it.

It’s their right, and it doesn’t mean they are a sellout undermining a cause.

Mac Engel: @macengelprof

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