Dez Bryant relishes his connection with Randy Moss. And the appeal isn’t just the perennial All- Pro’s ongoing status as one of the NFL’s most explosive weapons, nor his surefire standing as an almost certain Hall of Famer. The infatuation runs much deeper than that.
When Bryant looks at Moss, he sees himself. On draft day twelve years ago, character concerns caused Moss, a then consensus top-10 talent, to slip all the way down to Minnesota at No. 21. Fast-forward to NFL Draft night 2010, and the equally gifted but just as enigmatic Bryant now finds himself in the same precarious position.
The Oklahoma State star wideout was suspended for most of his junior season after NCAA officials determined he lied to investigators about a meeting with former NFL star Deion Sanders that violated NCAA rules. The swift and stern punishment may have ruined the 21-year-old would-be All-American’s final collegiate season, but it hasn’t dented his overall resolve.
“Y’all don’t want me to go to the NFL or something? It’s going to happen,” Bryant recently told the Associated Press. “It’s going to happen. God blessed me to have this ability to play this game. I haven’t (done) anything wrong to nobody. Whoever passes up on me (in the draft), it’s over with. I feel like I’m going through the same situation Randy Moss did. That man had issues and teams were passing up on him and when he got on that field, he killed them. He murdered them. Look at him today, one of the best players in the NFL.”
It seems fair to say few secrets remain once you delve into the mind of Dez Bryant. And so, in judging and evaluating him all the so-called experts need to take into account the complete story of his life. According to the Miami Herald, he was conceived when his mother was just 12-years-old and soon thereafter she commenced serving a prison sentence for selling crack cocaine to feed her three children.
His father, a man estimated at the time of his birth to be as old as 40-years-old, later kicked his pre-teen son out on the street because he raided the refrigerator once too often. After that, Bryant lived wherever he could, be it with friends, coaches or even in abandoned cars.
Now ask yourself, what seems a fairer gauge of Dez Bryant’s character: That he would dare to circumvent the letter of the law of a multi-billion dollar industry that largely profits off his unpaid labor or that he would do all he legally could to raise the depressed fortunes of all those he cares most about.
“I was nervous, the way they (the investigators) came in,” Bryant now says of his NCAA encounter following the Deion debacle. “My biggest regret was not telling the truth.”
And yet, there’s a much bigger issue at play here. And it has to do with the unmitigated guile of all the NFL scouts and owners who continue to pass judgment on so many young black men like Bryant without so much as even attempting to fully understand just who they are or where they’re coming from. It’s a game Bryant and the like simply can’t win.
In the meantime, he’ll wait — just as Randy Moss had to — to see what all the quick assessing will mean to his bottom line. Here’s hoping it turns out as profitably for him as it has his newfound idol.