I have a confession to make, Dez Bryant is my favorite Cowboy ever.
When Oklahoma State was recruiting him out of Lufkin High School in Texas, I kept up with it like I was Tom Luginbill. When he decided to be a Cowboy I was geeked. I watched his high school highlight tape more times than I care to admit.
When he started to do Dez things as a freshman it was tantalizing to think he may be able to live up to his lofty star recruit status.
When he brought in 19 touchdowns as a sophomore I knew he had one more year before he would turn pro. As we all know that junior year was cut short due to a dinner at Deion Sanders house.
All that stuff was great. But, this Rolling Stone article goes passed the highlights and limelight to tell the Dez Bryant story few know. It's a true "rags to riches" story. One you should absolutely read.
I think most of us knew he came from a "rough" background, but "rough" doesn't do his story justice. It's also extremely easy to pass over the story and his situation as a whole. We do it all the time.
I do it all the time.
Reading this greatly written article caused me to pause and think about how we glorify our Cowboys but rarely pause to think about the circumstances many of them come from. Rivals and Scout don't have a "home life" section on their recruiting profiles.
To say Dez was "at-risk" is, ugh, putting it lightly. Most of us weren't too worried about where our next meal was coming from as children. Bryant, and many college athletes were. But, what's wild to think about is his circumstances likely created who he is on the football field. Would he have the same fight and insatiable desire to be the best if he grew up in Oak Tree (possible)? What stood out to me about Dez, the player, was his fight. It seemed like every play he gave everything he had.
He wanted it more than the guys playing against him.
The part that crushed me:
"Luckily, all Bryant ever wanted to do was have a football in his hands. He gets somber recalling his first day in pads: "Me and my mom" — she was out of prison by then — "went down to the field to sign me up. But when they told us that we needed, you know, to pay for the equipment, we . . . well, we didn't have the . . . " He breaks off abruptly and ducks his head, holding it in both hands as he sobs. "But I swear on my life, I was blessed that day," says Bryant after composing himself. "There was this abandoned trailer, and on the stoop outside, I seen these shoulder pads and helmet sitting there. The craziest shit was, they actually fit me. I stole those, man. I stole 'em and I played.""
Go read the article and come back here to tell me what you would do to David Wells if you saw him in the street.