- Calvin Watkins, ESPN.com
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The future of the franchise isn't necessarily tied to Bryant's performances on the field, but when you hear Cowboys executive vice president Stephen Jones say the receiver needs to "get his hands around what he's doing off the field," you take notice.
There were two people who popped up in the news recently who got me to thinking about Bryant's future: Roy Jones Jr. and Terrell Owens.
Jones was once considered the best boxer in the world, but now he reportedly has financial problems.
He fought Dec. 10 in Atlanta against some pug named Max Alexander. Jones won a 10-round unanimous decision against a guy he would have destroyed in his prime.
But Jones needed the money, and so he sank to this level.
Owens is contemplating a contract offer to play with -- and become part owner of -- the Allen Wranglers, an Indoor Football League team outside of Dallas.
In his prime, Owens was one of the most dangerous players in the NFL. He's second all-time in receiving yards, fourth in touchdowns and sixth in catches.
T.O. also is having money issues. He's been sued for child support. During his reality television show, Owens even broke down in tears when discussing how an adviser had messed up his finances.
It appears playing for the Wrangers would be a desperate move by Owens to get back some of the income that's been lost.
Which brings us to Bryant.
Endurance Capital Fund, a New York-based finance company, said this week that Bryant owes the company $50,000 for an overdue payment of a loan, according to the Boston Herald. Cowboys owner Jerry Jones said Friday that wasn't the case, that Bryant had settled up.
Regardless, since he turned professional, Bryant has been sued by an apartment complex and two jewelers, and now this firm has threatened to come after him.
It seems the only place where Bryant has peace is on the football field.
Off the field, it's madness. And with the Cowboys one loss from starting their offseason Jan. 2, the Cowboys should be scared for Bryant.
"We've obviously sat down with him on numerous occasions to give any advice we can," Stephen Jones said on Sirius/XM radio. "Hopefully he'll be able to correct those things so it doesn't affect what he can accomplish on the field. If you don't clean those things up, they tend to affect you career. He understands that."
Bryant made several decisions before he turned pro to buy things without having a dime in his pocket. He relied on several people to help him. Whether they failed him is insignificant at this time.
What's important is the Cowboys help him fix things before he turns into another Terrell Owens or Roy Jones Jr. -- or any number of other athletes who have messed up their finances.
It's not easy to handle millions of dollars when you've never had that much money before. And when you have people coming at you for funds -- people you trust -- how do you say no to them?
It appears Bryant isn't handling things well from a financial standpoint. It's as if he thinks he has more credit than the U.S. government.
He didn't get a big-money contract when he came out of Oklahoma State in 2010, signing a five-year, $11.8 million deal with the Cowboys.
On Sunday night, Bryant might be the most talented offensive player on the field. He's got speed, power and enough knowledge of the Cowboys' offense to scare the New York Giants.
But off the field, Bryant needs to understand that he's got to slow down. He has to find a way to manage his issues. Otherwise, when he gets to be 34 or 35, he too might be contemplating playing in an arena league just for the dollars.
If he does it the right way, he can retire and just watch his money grow.
"Any time you have issues that are in the public, you wish they weren't there," Stephen Jones said. "I think most of these incidents revolve around things he did early on when he first got in the NFL. I think he's learning from that, but there are still some lingering things that probably if he had to do over again, he'd do differently."
Calvin Watkins covers the Cowboys for ESPNDallas.com.
Cowboys have reason to be concerned about Dez Bryant's off-field issues.