Friday, April 30, 2010
Bryant: I didn't tell Ireland dad a 'pimp'
ESPN.com news services
Cowboys rookie receiver Dez Bryant has denied that a question from Dolphins general manager Jeff Ireland in a predraft interview asking if his mother was a prostitute was prompted by something Bryant said.
"No, I didn't tell him my dad was a pimp," Bryant said in a text message to ESPN's Ed Werder on Thursday.
A league source told ESPN.com's Matt Mosley details of the conversation first reported by SI.com earlier Friday were accurate. During the meeting, the source said, Ireland asked Bryant -- during a talk about Bryant's upbringing and relationship with family members --- what his father did for a living when Bryant was growing up, which apparently prompted this exchange:
Bryant: "My dad was a pimp."
Ireland: "What did your mom do [for a living]?"
Bryant: "She worked for my dad."
Ireland: "Your mom was a prostitute?"
Bryant: "No, she wasn't a prostitute."
Following the Cowboys' first rookie minicamp Friday, Bryant was asked about the conversation in the SI.com story.
"No, that's a lie," he said to reporters. "I really don't want to speak on that."
Bryant repeatedly said he didn't want to talk about it.
"I just want to talk about the Cowboys and what I'm doing. I put that in the past," Bryant said. "I'm just going to move on, I really don't even want to speak on it anymore. I feel fine, things are great. I'm just looking ahead now."
Bryant's on-field debut with the Cowboys came days after Ireland apologized publicly, the NFL players union raised concerns about discrimination and degradation, and Dolphins owner Stephen Ross said he would look into the matter personally.
"My job is to find out as much information as possible about a player that I'm considering drafting. Sometimes that leads to asking in-depth questions," Ireland said Tuesday in a statement released by the Dolphins. "Having said that, I talked to Dez Bryant and told him I used poor judgment in one of the questions I asked him. I certainly meant no disrespect and apologized to him."
Ireland received permission from the Cowboys' front office Tuesday to speak with Bryant.
Meanwhile, Ross gave Ireland a vote of confidence Friday and said he considers "the matter closed."
In a four-paragraph statement, the Dolphins owner said he spoke with several people, both directly and indirectly involved with the situation, and concluded the team will need to make some changes to its interview practices.
He stopped short, however, of saying he considered any punishment for Ireland.
"Jeff Ireland is a man of great capability and integrity and he is well deserving of my continued confidence," Ross said.
Ross did not specify exactly how the interview processes going forward would change.
"We are going to take a hard look at our interview practices and we will make improvements that will allow us to get the important information we need about players in whom we are making a major investment, but without being insensitive," Ross said.
NFL spokesman Greg Aiello said Ross "is taking the appropriate steps to address the matter and we look forward to hearing what Mr. Ross decides to do to improve the club's interviewing practices."
Cowboys owner Jerry Jones said he respected how the Dolphins were handling the situation and had communicated this week with Ireland and Ross "on a personal basis." Jones didn't elaborate.
Yahoo! Sports first reported that during one of his predraft visits, Bryant was asked by a high-level executive of one NFL franchise -- during an extensive conversation about Bryant's past -- whether his mother, Angela, was a prostitute.
"No, my mom is not a prostitute," Bryant told Yahoo! Sports. "I got mad -- really mad -- but I didn't show it. I got a lot of questions like that: Does she still do drugs? I sat and answered all of them."
The backgrounds of Bryant and his mother were widely reported prior to the draft. Angela was only 15 when Dez was born, and she served time in jail for selling crack cocaine.
The Cowboys traded up three spots to get Bryant with the 24th overall pick in last week's NFL draft. Bryant was among the Cowboys' six draft picks who joined 26 other rookie free agents and first-year players for the start of a weekend minicamp.
Surrounded by reporters and cameras at his locker, Bryant was asked if he was bothered by the controversy marring the start of his NFL career.
"It did bother me, but it doesn't bother me anymore," Bryant said. "I'm fine, my family's fine, we're great. We faced a lot of criticism but you know things are great now and we moved ahead. I'm happy, my family's happy. That's what all matters."
During practice, the 6-foot-1 Bryant made several nice catches, including a one-handed grab when he reached back for the ball, and on a deep route when he adjusted without breaking stride to fend off a defender that was on his hip.
"He made some very impressive plays," Jones said. "Dez had a really fine day. Everything I could have expected in terms of adjusting, catching. In terms of how fast he gets out on the D-back, all of it's good. ... I just saw a guy that was extremely willing, very positive out there and really into the work."
Because Bryant missed most of his senior season at Oklahoma State while suspended after lying to the NCAA about his activities with former NFL cornerback Deion Sanders, he hadn't been through a team practice since mid-September.
That was obvious at times Friday, with his hands on his helmet or his hips and bending down to a knee.
"I wouldn't say struggling. I'm just getting back in the flow," Bryant said. "I'm back doing what I love to do. I was already expecting me to bend over a little, get tired. If you seen me, you seen I was smiling, because I haven't been through that in a long time. It was just a great feeling to get through that little hard time."
Information from ESPNDallas.com's Calvin Watkins and The Associated Press was used in this report.