Dez Bryant: Just Carry the Pads


Just about a year ago, I remember watching the conclusion of a practice at the Virginia Mason Athletic Center. It was Jim Mora’s first training camp, and Aaron Curry’s first practice.

Curry, who had been drafted fourth overall only months earlier, was a late arrival to training camp because of contract negotiations. For the fans, it was a pleasant sight when number fifty-nine finally ran out of the building and onto the practice field.

At the end of practice, Aaron Curry lugged the equipment of four or five players – both shoulder pads and helmets – to the fence line where fans had lined up. Dropping the equipment momentarily, Curry met with fans and signed autographs before he was summoned back to the training facility. Looking like someone who had enjoyed his brief exposure to the National Football League, Curry retrieved the equipment of his teammates and jogged off the practice field.

Curry was a rookie in the National Football League. Traditionally, rookies carry equipment off the field for the veterans.

Earlier this week in Dallas, however, rookie wide receiver Dez Bryant refused to follow tradition.

Are you kidding me? Dez, pick up the damn pads and stop complaining. As a rite of passage, more talented prospects and higher draft selections have done it before you.

I suppose we’re watching the next prima donna wide receiver develop before our eyes.

I understand carrying the shoulder pads of a veteran player is somewhat silly. Especially unreasonable in Bryant’s situation, where the pads belong to someone who you’re competing with for playing time. But it is tradition, and Dez Bryant is not more deserving or special than other rookies in the league.

Like Aaron Curry, Bryant’s accomplishments in college don’t matter anymore. His status as a first-round draft pick is irrelevant. In the NFL, Bryant is unproven; sometimes rookies need to be reminded of that after they’re compensated like superstars.

Since I don’t care much for the Dallas Cowboys, I don’t mind that Dez Bryant is averting tradition. I hope the Cowboys invested a first-round draft pick in a selfish, prima donna wide receiver who is talented, but problematic. Maybe there is a reason why so many other teams passed on Bryant, who was supposedly more talented than any other wide receiver in the 2010 draft.

But I also wouldn’t mind seeing Bryant dumped into a cold tub of ice or experience some additional rookie hazing since he avoided the easier route.

Some people will defend his actions, but I don’t see what his problem is. Amongst his peers in the NFL, Dez Bryant is just another guy who needs to prove his worth at the professional level.

Pick up the pads and get over yourself.

Shaun Dolence:
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