A lot of guys with spotty backgrounds come into the NFL. Players enter the NFL draft from all walks of life, and their upbringing is not always the prettiest picture.
And according to a ex-scout, Dallas Cowboys receiver Dez Bryant's background was the worst he had seen coming into the league.
Bryant's off-field issues have been well documented (and it says something about his immense talent that he still went in the first round), but ex-scout Bryan Broaddus provided some context to those issues in quotes to 105.3 FM in Dallas, and relayed by the Dallas Morning News.
Sometimes it isn't so easy to just portray a player as a villain without considering all the circumstances:
“The worst I had ever seen of a background is the kid Dez Bryant," Broaddus told 105.3 FM. "When you look at what he went through and then you’re talking about these players, and it’s hard for them to get away from these people in their lives because these people have been with them when they were nothing, when they were nobodies. All of a sudden you’re thinking ok, I’m going to turn my back on my three buddies here. I have to change, but they ain’t changing.
"I think if Dez Bryant was playing in St. Louis or Baltimore or Seattle, I think the fact that his family is here with him, I think that was a really hard adjustment for him. Hopefully from what we’ve seen, he’s managing that well. That’s the important thing.”
For the uninitiated, Bryant had a rough upbringing and has found his fair share of trouble.
Bryant's mother had him when she was 14, and when Bryant was a child she served 18 months in jail for selling crack cocaine. Bryant bounced around from home to home until he got to college, and at Oklahoma State he added to his troubles when the NCAA suspended him for associating with Deion Sanders (he trained with Sanders and Sanders bought him lunch, which is not allowed) and not being forthcoming about the relationship with the NCAA. Character concerns were a reason he slid to the Cowboys at 24th overall in the 2010 NFL draft, and he had some bumps in the road as a pro. He was booted from a mall for not pulling up his sagging pants, there were reports he owed hundreds of thousands of dollars in debt to jewelers and there was an incident last year in which he allegedly hit his mother in the face with a baseball cap and ripped her T-shirt and bra, though she didn't press charges.
Broaddus, who served as the assistant director of pro personnel with the Cowboys from 1999-2004, talked about the "constant worry" of a front office dealing with a player like Bryant, but Bryant and the team deserve credit for him overcoming his past and some of the people that were bad influences to become one of the best receivers in the NFL.
The team put in measures to keep a watchful eye on Bryant off the field, including a security detail and a curfew, and he had a breakout season under those conditions. Bryant had 1,382 yards and 12 touchdowns last season, and is just 24 years old. The Cowboys took a chance on Bryant, and it seems to have turned out well.
That's a huge dilemma teams face in the draft when trying to decide whether to take a chance on a troubled player. Even the player with the worst background one scout had seen can be turned into a success story. Other times, taking a chance turns out a lot worse.