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Dez Bryant: Youthful Indiscretions Or Pattern Of Behavior?

ARLINGTON TX - NOVEMBER 21:  Wide receiver Dez Bryant #88 of the Dallas Cowboys celebrates after the Cowboys beat the Detroit Lions 35-19 at Cowboys Stadium on November 21 2010 in Arlington Texas.  (Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images)
ARLINGTON TX - NOVEMBER 21: Wide receiver Dez Bryant #88 of the Dallas Cowboys celebrates after the Cowboys beat the Detroit Lions 35-19 at Cowboys Stadium on November 21 2010 in Arlington Texas. (Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images)
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I never really thought I'd have to write something about guys wearing their pants too low, but I guess it has come to that. I'm not even going to weigh-in on the appropriate height of a waistline - as represented by the pants you're wearing. Far be it from me, as an older codger, to judge the youth of today. I know when I was young, I did plenty of things that were in-style at the time that parents just didn't understand. So this isn't about the right and wrong of that issue.

This is more about Dez Bryant. Is he guilty of youthful indiscretions, of not being mature enough on some issues to recognize the consequences of his actions? Or is he headed for bigger trouble down the line because of a pattern of behavior? The mall-incident in itself is a non-issue to me. When you add it to the other mall-issues that have been reported about Bryant, you still fall short of the threshold of major problem. I mean, he's not drunk-driving, his behavior isn't violent, there are no sexual assaults or other problems that we see around the NFL, and in society in general. So let's not come down too hard on the guy.

But I would like to see him recognize that as a professional athlete, as a member of the Dallas Cowboys, he's subjected to different rules than most young men. His actions will make the papers, no matter what. I can blame myself for reporting on it, you can blame us and other media outlets for reporting on it, but that doesn't excuse the behavior itself.

That's the first thing Dez needs to recognize. He's under the microscope, so recognize that fact and try to adjust accordingly. You're under extra-scrutiny, but you also hold a privileged position. Understand that, and decide which is more important to you. Slightly bad behavior vs. your membership in an elite society accorded extra-advantages. No one is forcing you in either direction, but continued escalation of the type of behavior we've seen could one day damage your ability to choose.

Then there's this whole thing with Deion Sanders. The irony of Deion asking someone to tone down their behavior at this point in their career should not be lost on anybody. Even though I applaud Deion's efforts to help young men get on the right path, sometimes he forgets he didn't exactly get to his current state of enlightenment until much later in his career. So his breaking-off of any contact with Dez was puzzling to me. Especially this proclamation:

"I don't have a problem with you lying to me. That's one thing," Sanders said. "But when you lie to yourself as a man, you have a serious problem and that's where [Bryant] is. And I can't condone it. I really can't. It tarnishes everything else I'm trying to develop in these kids [in his youth program]. I can't allow you to poison other kids that I'm trying to mentor and take to another level."

Hmm, sounds like Dez would have to be doing some pretty serious stuff to have an effect on the kids in Sanders' youth program. Unless there's more going on than what has been reported, it seems like Sanders is giving up his mentoring of Bryant way too easily. This didn't sit right with me. Sure Bryant is making some mistakes, but these aren't the kinds of things - to me - that you would give him the cold-shoulder over. Especially if you're dedicated to helping young men get to where they want to be.

Could something else be in play? Bryant seems to think so.

Meanwhile, Bryant said Sanders has refused to talk to him since he backed out of his marketing deal with Under Armour, a popular shoe and apparel company that also outfits Sanders' youth athletic programs. The deal fell apart, according to Bryant, because he determined during last year's minicamps that the company's cleats weren't the right fit for his feet.

Bryant, who wears Nike cleats but does not have a shoe deal, said Sanders has ignored repeated text messages from him since then.

Now, if you ask me which explanation I believe about the rupture between the two parties, based on what I read in the ESPN article, I'm inclined to believe Bryant. Money and endorsements are a powerful force, and Bryant not doing what Sanders wanted in this case sounds more like the reason.

Still, I wish Dez Bryant would think a little more before acting. Let these youthful indiscretions go, and wake up to the world you are in now. You're an adult, you're in a privileged position an an NFL player with the Dallas Cowboys. Understand that's what's most important now.

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