Ever since word first started circulating about the purported video of Dallas Cowboys wide receiver Dez Bryant doing something that was compared to the infamous Ray Rice assault, Blogging The Boys has been trying to stick only to the facts about this strange situation. Dave Halprin strove to keep our readers informed in his two posts on the subject (here and here), but this was a story that was long on rumor and innuendo and very short on any verifiable information.
The real storm in the media, both traditional and social, got started with an appearance on radio station 105.3 The Fan in Dallas by national NFL reporter Mike Florio. As he explained in an article posted on Pro Football Talk, there has long been a pursuit of an alleged video of Bryant doing something incriminating. He admits in his article that this was something that he should not have said, since the rumor itself has yet to be substantiated. He brings up a police report that he believes relates to the incident that is the assumed subject of the mysterious video. Dave summarized the event in his second post, and it amounts to not much at all. Bryant's involvement seems to have been strictly in trying to help out the woman who was reportedly drug from one vehicle. There were a total of three vehicles that showed up that night, all registered to Bryant, and two of them were driven by other people. Underlying all this is the circle of "friends" that surrounded Bryant. He certainly made many mistakes in who he associated with and given the kinds of vehicles involved (a Cadillac Escalade, a Mercedes, and a Bentley) there is a logical assumption that these people were literally riding on Bryant's success and money.
The events chronicled in the police report that has now been released happened in 2011, which was during the time frame when Bryant was involved in a series of police reports that were the subject of a report by another national NFL writer. Ian Rapoport wrote an article last year that claimed that the Cowboys organization had a lack of faith in Bryant because of the sequence of events, but this is contradicted by the fact that Dallas was close to signing Bryant to a long-term deal that fell through when Bryant suddenly changed agents.
This is a puzzle where the various pieces just do not fit together into any kind of coherent picture. While Rapoport seems to still be trying to build a case that Bryant is a problem for Dallas, he was unquestionably a key part of the Cowboys' success in 2014, and has always been one of the top receivers in the league. When looked at from a more sympathetic viewpoint, Bryant's story is of a talented and highly motivated young man who has overcome a simply horrific childhood to reach the pinnacle of his profession. But the coverage of the various negative events he has surmounted to become an All Pro look like little more than a form of character assassination for reasons that remain murky at best.
What is still very open to question is the source of all this. The implication of what both Florio and Rapoport have written is that someone inside the Dallas organization has fed them information about distrust between Cowboys management and their star receiver. This has repeatedly been categorically denied by Jerry Jones and Stephen Jones, and all their actions to date are consistent with a pronounced desire to make Bryant a Cowboy for life.
This question of who is giving the writers the information about the supposed distrust is one that should be of great concern to the Cowboys organization. The Jones family has not made a habit of using negative negotiation tactics, and evidence actually points to the opposite. Something is wrong here, and may never be fully understood, but it is not unreasonable to believe that efforts are underway to sort this out. That is, however, just a speculative assumption, although a logical one. It does indicate that there is some kind of a problem inside Valley Ranch. As fans, we can only hope that something will be done to work it out, and soon.
The mysterious video remains just that, a mystery that may never be answered. Along the way, there is mention that there might have been an attempt to collect money to keep the video from being released, which raises a serious question of whether the video might disappear forever. Attempting to get paid for withholding a video that supposedly shows criminal activity would open the holder of the video for criminal charges for suppressing evidence and extortion. The video may still emerge, but that is doubtful. At this point, no one can even say if it actually exists, or was some strange hoax. Even if it should come out, it is hard to imagine just what it would reveal that is so damning, based on what has actually come out about the incident at the Walmart. There is no question that there may be things that the police were not told. Having worked for six years taking reports for a police department as a civilian auxiliary, I know that almost everyone tries to shape the narrative to put themselves in the best light. The rule of thumb for the police is not if people deceive or mislead. It is whether they do so from the start, or later.
The bottom line is that the Cowboys have a complete mess on their hands, dumped right in the middle of a very important negotiation with one of their most important players. It is hard to imagine a more damaging time for this to come out, which itself is disturbing. While Bryant is not devoid of responsibility for the creation of all this, his mistakes are several years in the past and he has done quite well in trying to straighten his life out. He has unquestionably been a force on the field and he is by all reports a positive presence in the locker room as well. The reporting in the national media about him has been less than exemplary. Bryant has worked hard to rectify his past mistakes, but he is the one paying the price despite his best efforts to grow and improve. He has always been a polarizing figure because he wears his emotions openly. But he does not deserve this, and except for the unknown source of the leaks from inside the Cowboys, neither does the organization. We can only hope things are resolved with Bryant's contract soon and all this is put behind everyone, where it deserves to be.
And that there isn't something really bad yet to come.