Cowboys doing right thing by Dez Bryant

When Dez Bryant was arrested in July on domestic violence charges for allegedly assaulting his mother, the Dallas Cowboys were reminded how fragile the off-field situation is with their talented-but-troubled 23-year-old wide receiver. Having assumed a certain level of responsibility for his care and development when they drafted him with full awareness of his off-field issues, and knowing how important he is to their on-field success, the Cowboys have decided their job is to do whatever they can to keep Bryant out of further trouble.

To that end, Calvin Watkins reports, the Cowboys have established some new off-field guidelines for Bryant:

  • A midnight curfew. If he's going to miss curfew, team officials must know in advance;

  • No drinking alcohol.

  • He can't attend any strip clubs and can only attend nightclubs if they are approved by the team and he has a security team with him.

  • He must attend counseling sessions twice a week.

  • A rotating three-man security team will leave one man with Bryant at all times.

  • Members of the security team will drive Bryant to practices, games and team functions.

Bryant's adviser, David Wells, will hire the security team for the wide receiver.

"Oh yeah, very much willing to do anything he can to help himself and help the team," Cowboys owner/general manager Jerry Jones said of Bryant. "He's very open-minded and cooperative. He's doing the right things by his teammates and everybody is counting on him."

Now, people are going to laugh. I already see on Twitter people asking things like, "Why does a grown man need babysitters?" But the fact is, this is a special case of a guy who's got no familial support system and never has, and who needs some form of structure off the field if he's going to have a chance to succeed in life. The mother he's accused of assaulting is 14 years older than he is and has done jail time for selling crack. There is no father in the picture. The book on Bryant's family is that it cared nothing about him until he got drafted and started making large sums of money. Leaving Bryant to fend for himself in that environment is a recipe for failure, and as I said earlier, the Cowboys have a responsibility to do what they can to make sure he's OK. When they drafted him, knowing about all of his issues, they took that on. It's to their benefit to keep his head on straight, but it's also the right thing for them to do.

And let's be careful how we use terms like "grown man." This young man is 23 years old and has obviously been the victim of negligence when it comes to his emotional and behavioral development. He's not a finished product. Far from it, in fact. To give up on a person at that age just because you think he's had enough time to figure everything out is shortsighted. The point on Bryant is that he needs help, and that his story doesn't yet have an ending. The chance to make the ending a happy one is not one to be thrown away carelessly, and if that means he needs babysitting while he works through this delayed stage of his personal development, then so be it. Good for him for being talented enough at sports to get that chance while so many others in similar situations can't. He's lucky that way, and he should take advantage of that.

It's a tough world, and nobody's going to get through it without help. Bryant's a guy who hasn't got as much help as most people should get in their first 23 years. He doesn't seem like a bad kid, just one who needs more work. His coaches and teammates like him, and he's made no trouble for the Cowboys on the field or in the locker room. When he's at the stadium or the team facility, he's fine. It's when he leaves that the potential trouble starts -- when he puts/finds himself in situations that raise red flags. He still needs help avoiding bad decisions and making good ones, and it's clear there are few if any people in his life outside of football who can offer it. The Cowboys are absolutely, 100 percent right to step in and try to fill that void.