- Dan Graziano, ESPN Staff Writer
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I understand that what you guys care about is whether Dallas Cowboys receiver Dez Bryant will be suspended for his arrest last week on family violence charges. And obviously, the events of today make that less likely (though still not out of the question). Bryant's 37-year-old mother, who was the one who reported her 23-year-old son for attacking her, now says she doesn't want charges pressed. The two appeared at a news conference Tuesday afternoon but did not speak. Instead, Bryant's attorney made a statement:
Angela Bryant does not want charges filed against her son. Ms. Bryant has had an opportunity to speak with other people who witnessed the incident and has filed an Affidavit of Non Prosecution with the DeSoto Police Department. She recognizes that under the law, filing of the affidavit may not impact the legal outcome of her complaint. She asks that her affidavit be taken into consideration in deciding whether it is in the best interest of her family for this to continue in the legal system or allow them to resolve the issue as a family.
Dez and his mother believe this is a family matter that can be worked out through counseling.
They ask that there not be a rush to judgment concerning their family. They also ask for your continued prayers and support for their family as they work through this matter.
So that's that, except it's not. The Dallas district attorney's office can still proceed with charges if it decides to, regardless of Angela Bryant's wishes. Now, if she's decided not to be a cooperative witness, it seems unlikely they'd have much of a case. But since the whole thing rested on her credibility as a witness, so does this latest part of it. And if she wasn't credible in the first place, it may well be that she's not now either. Certainly, Angela Bryant has a financial stake in her son's ability to pursue his career without interruption. Her motivation for any and all of her actions in this situation has to be scrutinized as much as the actions of Bryant himself.
Also, past cases have shown that NFL commissioner Roger Goodell can impose player discipline under the personal conduct policy even if no criminal charges are filed. So a lot remains to be seen before we know whether Bryant will miss games over this.
I continue to insist, however, that that's not the most important thing about this. Whether Bryant misses a game or four games or no games this season, the most important thing that has to happen in his life is that he's got to find a better support system, stop finding himself in bad situations and stop making detrimental choices. It's extremely clear at this point, regardless of the attorney's plea to refrain from judgment, that Bryant's mother is not part of a helpful support system. At present, she's the one with the more significant criminal record. And while I'm certainly willing to believe Bryant and his mother love each other, it doesn't appear that this particular family excels at "resolving issues as a family."
The Cowboys have to be eager to get Bryant to training camp, in California, away from the trouble into which he always seems to get himself when he's home with his family and friends. But more than that, the team, the league and anyone else who has anything invested in the long-term success of this young man need to make it a priority to change something about the way he's living his life. Because if all that comes of this is that it all blows over and everybody acts like nothing ever happened, something else is probably going to happen down the road.
I don't know if the Cowboys or the commissioner plan to deal with this in a disciplinary way. But I hope for Bryant's sake that they're having conversations about what they can do to help Bryant stay out of trouble in the future. That could mean a wake-up-call type of punishment, counseling or anything else that might have a chance to work. The people who care about Bryant need to be considering every option.