DETROIT – The video footage paints a delicious story; a repetitive one also. It just may be rooted more in stereotypes than fact, but when did that stop anyone or anything these days?
Tape don't lie, and there on Sunday, during the Dallas Cowboys' devastating 31-30 last-minute defeat to the Detroit Lions, were clear camera shots of Dez Bryant screaming at Tony Romo.
And there he was screaming at wide receivers coach Derek Dooley. And there he was screaming at Romo again. And there he was, later on, screaming at Jason Witten, who was screaming at him too. And there he was screaming at DeMarcus Ware, who wasn't even suited up to play. There was probably another Romo one sprinkled in there also.
If Fox had a "Dez Camera," it probably would've found a dozen more screaming sessions. No one disputes that.
"That's y'alls problem," Bryant said after, and, indeed, it is.
Only the people involved know exactly what Bryant was screaming about, but unless they are all lying, it was mostly rah-rah, go-team stuff – only in a Dez-esque way of conveying such a message, of course.
Maybe some people would prefer he just sits on the bench and stews or stands on the sideline in silence. Then again, Tom Brady and Peyton Manning don't act that way when they think their team is in the process of blowing a game they should win.
Maybe that's why the GIFs, highlights and instant reactions that will dominate media and fan conversation over the next few days didn't seem to bother anyone who actually works for the Cowboys. Or owns them, for that matter.
"That's emotion and I don't place any issue on his demeanor or his sideline activity," Jerry Jones said.
"He's a competitive guy," reasoned Romo.
"He's great," Witten said.
"We have a lot of competitive people on our football team," said coach Jason Garrett in general.
Was Bryant screaming for Romo to throw him the ball more often? Romo says no. (This is difficult to believe, but that's what he said.) Even if Bryant was asking for the football, it wasn't exactly the worst idea. He was targeted only six times the entire game – catching three for 72 yards and two touchdowns.
After one televised flare-up, Romo did hit Bryant on an out pattern. He promptly split two defenders and took it to the house for a 50-yard touchdown. It was brilliant.
There was also the play with just 52 seconds left in the second quarter. Bryant still hadn't caught a pass and had only one thrown to him. It was third-and-goal from the 5-yard line and Romo tossed it to the corner, where despite aggressive coverage, Bryant made a circus grab for the score.
That's Bryant, so gifted, so tough, that he can put together plays that make people wonder if he's in the same class of player as the Lions' Calvin Johnson, and this on a day when Calvin Johnson caught 14 passes for 329 yards, the most ever by an NFL receiver in a non-overtime game.
Of course, one theory was Bryant was doing all that screaming because it was upsetting to watch Johnson have so many passes thrown in his direction. Especially after he said something that was deemed comparative about the two of them this week. But that got taken all wrong too, Dez said.
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"You guys can say whatever you want to say," Bryant said. "When I told you it wasn't a comparison and I told you to take a different route with it, that's fine. This is a team sport …
"People took it over the top, to an extreme," he continued. "Me and him talked before the game. Had a great conversation. Wished each other the best of luck."
Mostly Bryant disputed that any of his outbursts, no matter how they may have looked, were based on selfish play or rooted in anything but a desire to win or is anything to be embarrassed about or even merits further explanation.
Dallas lost Sunday for innumerable reasons – the genius of Megatron and a brutally ill-timed holding call on Tyron Smith top the list. Dez Bryant screaming on the sideline isn't even a contender.
"My passion is always positive," Bryant said. "Always positive. It's all positive. It just is what it is."
"Can you be too passionate?" someone asked him after the game.
"There's no such thing," Bryant said. "There's no such thing as being too passionate. You've got to have it. You've got to have it to win the game. I'm sorry. If anybody disagrees [they've] got a serious problem."
Like it or not, plenty of people have a serious problem. Bryant is a lightning rod, of course. Twenty-four years old and he's almost your prototypical NFL star receiver – sublime talent with an undeniable diva streak. Yet who cares about the diva streak? Or, more precisely, why should anyone not in uniform care about the diva streak?
"I'm sure you've seen him get emotional, which happens every game," Romo said. "He's never complained to me about getting the ball. He knows that the ball [is] going to where it's supposed to. He knows that.
"When you guys see emotions from Dez, it's just trying to 'rah, rah' more than it is being a 'me' guy. That's not who Dez is. I think that would be completely out of character for him if there were ever a 'me' situation. He does a great job. Sometimes he gets emotional just about, 'Come on guys, come on, we're better than this.'
"He's never a self-first guy."
One sideline scene the cameras didn't catch came after one of the Bryant-screams-at-Romo sessions. The Cowboys took the field and scored on three plays, the big one a 60-yard touchdown to Terrance Williams. Bryant wasn't targeted once on the series.
Rather than pout or complain then, he went and gave Romo a hug.
"The discussion [Romo and I] had was basically not only with him, but with everybody else," Bryant said. "Just critical situations. Our defense, they stopped them. We had to put up points and that kind of stuff. That's all it was."
And postgame, he and Witten hugged it out in the locker room. Witten even expressed his love for his teammate and hailed his competitive fire. Their argument was more about getting Bryant's head back in the game for a final Hail Mary attempt.
"He wanted me to calm down," Bryant said.
Whatever the deal is, it isn't stopping.
"It's been that way since Day 1," he said. "It's been that way since I got drafted. I told you all. Don't get it twisted. I love this game. I love my teammates. And that's what it is. It started in Pop Warner, went to middle school, went to high school, went to college."
This is Dez Bryant. On the sideline. On the field. This what makes him great. Trying to change him would be foolish.
He's the guy who hates seeing a single drive go to waste, the guy who sensed Dallas couldn't have too many points on the board, the guy who wasn't in favor of a single conservative play call up ten in the fourth quarter.
"[If you] get the opportunity to put our foot on their throats, just keep doing it," he said. "It doesn't matter if there was 30 seconds left in the game. If they are going to give us an opportunity then we needed to take it."
Or as he noted later, "Everybody knows we should have won this game."
Standing there in the middle of a solemn, losing locker room, with a long, full-of-regrets flight back to Texas to come, with everyone around him saying the sideline replays that will become a story doesn't tell the whole story, this much was undeniable.
While the messenger and his means sure could be smoother, Dez Bryant had a point.
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