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Dez Bryant should have stayed home

ATLANTA -- In theory, Dez Bryant's late-night trip to a Dallas nightclub shouldn't be a big deal.

But it is.

It's not because Bryant did something wrong at the club -- he didn't -- but he was out late, with permission from adviser David Wells and team officials, to have a little fun before his birthday.

This presents a problem because of Bryant's off-field behavior. He still has a case pending for domestic violence involving his mother. He didn't practice all week with a sore hip and fell down during a Friday morning walkthrough. Bryant is sore as a result of his crashing to the ground after almost making a spectacular catch in last week's loss to the New York Giants.

Bryant is the most talented wide receiver on the Cowboys, but the most troubled. Friday night should have been a night at home. Yes, his birthday is Nov. 4 and this was a little gift for him to celebrate, but he needed to stay home.

It's all about perception. Ask Tony Romo.

During the bye week of the 2007 playoffs, Romo and two teammates ventured down to Mexico to relax. Some fans and media members said it was the wrong thing to do. The Cowboys lost to the Giants in the divisional round of the playoffs, and some fans have never forgiven Romo for his trip.

The trip didn't cost the Cowboys the game. If the Cowboys had won, however, maybe things would be different regarding that trip. But his team lost, and many felt the quarterback needed to set the tone for the franchise. Stay home and relax.

A few years later, former Cowboys Ken Hamlin, Keith Davis and Tank Johnson took a trip to South Texas for a Halloween party 48 hours before a game at New York.

The trio got home in time, but that weekend the Cowboys lost.

They should have stayed home.

I'm not against players going out; that's their right. You can't ask 20-something-year-old players to stay home every weekend. But Bryant should have stayed home Friday night.

If Bryant struggles Sunday night at Atlanta, he opens himself up to being criticized for hanging out late when he has a bad hip.

Bryant is a good player. He plays hard and cares deeply about his team.

But going out late Friday night wasn't the right thing to do.