The Dallas Cowboys' offseason has had plenty of storylines, as usual. Nothing the Cowboys do goes unnoticed by the media. There's the changing of the defensive scheme with a new coordinator. There's the
controversy decision to hand the play-calling duties over to Bill Callahan. There was the initial freakout over the Cowboys' early draft picks. All interesting stuff, but perhaps the story that will have the largest long-term effect on the Cowboys' future is the story of Dez Bryant.
As dedicated Dallas fans we all know the story of Dez as it's played out so far. Ultra-talented athlete with issues off the field. There's no need to recount all the real and alleged transgressions of Bryant's past, we already know them. So let's look ahead and see that, by all accounts, there's a new Dez Bryant in town.
On the field, the second half of last season was a glimpse at the kind of player we all thought Bryant could become. He was dominant. Carrying that over to this offseason, Dez has been a regular at Valley Ranch for strength and conditioning work. Bryant's conditioning had been one of the on-the-field knocks, whether real or perceived. During the OTAs and mini-camps, he's been virtually unstoppable, making the routine catch along with the circus catch.
Bryant even sounds different in his offseason interviews, causing the media to throw around an overused word - maturity. But there may be something to this because it appears Bryant is getting help and advice from some established stars. Instead of listening to people who may not have his best interest at heart, he's turned to some personalities from a different league. The NBA.
Bryant's close adviser, David Wells, tells the story.
But Wells said Tuesday that (Michael) Jordan and Bryant speak by phone twice a week and exchange text messages on a regular basis. He also said that Los Angeles Clippers point guard Chris Paul has been instrumental in Bryant's development.
"They almost treat him like a little brother," Wells said. "Dez started listening to older people instead of the young guys. Those guys are both married and have stable lives. And that's something Dez craves."
Jordan and Bryant have a financial relationship, Dez signed up with Nike's Jordan Brand. So both sides have a vested interest in Bryant's off the field behavior. Bryant even asked Jordan to defer his payments in the first year so he could prove he's a changed man.
Jordan is asking Bryant to do more than just stay out of trouble, he wants him to step up as a leader on the Cowboys. Bryant has taken it to heart.
[Bryant] couldn't stop talking about rookie wide receiver Terrance Williams last week. He has spent a ton of time with Williams before and after practice and believes the Baylor product has remarkable talent. Wells again credits Jordan for Bryant's desire to become a mentor to younger players. "That's one of the things that Michael Jordan preached to him," Wells said. "He wants him to develop as a leader."
This all is welcome news for Cowboys fans. Dez Bryant has always had immense talent and it started to truly show at the end of last year. If he can continue on this path and embrace the good advice he's receiving from guys who have been there and done that, his potential is unlimited.
If it all plays out as planned, Calvin Johnson better be looking over his shoulder because Dez is trying to run him down.