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Dez Bryant Making Changes: More Turmoil, Or Just Getting His Life In Order?

The talented wide receiver for the Dallas Cowboys is parting ways with his long-time adviser. We try to sort out what this really means for Bryant and the team.

Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

It was reported on Friday that Dez Bryant, in conjunction with the agents that he hired back in October, has taken steps to terminate the relationship he has had for several years with his personal adviser David Wells. While it is not unusual for professional athletes to make changes in their various business arrangements, this is getting a good bit of attention. First of all, he is a member of the Dallas Cowboys, arguably the most scrutinized team in the NFL. Anything that can generate some coverage about them will always lead to articles and other posts. And Bryant and the team are in the middle of a protracted contract negotiation. The team has placed a franchise tag on Bryant, but he has not signed it. Both sides appear to have a strong preference to get a long-term contract worked out, but are trying to come to an agreement on the terms, with guaranteed money and length the likely points of contention.

The history of Wells' involvement with Bryant is a rather complex one, and goes back to his college career. Bryant was suspended at Oklahoma State over an ill-advised meeting with Deion Sanders. This was the first of a series of bad decisions by the talented receiver with a very troubled background. Losing the playing time in what turned out to be his final season in college looked like a hardship initially, but wound up creating a great opportunity for both him and the Cowboys. Bryant fell in the draft to where the Cowboys were able to get him, and being in Dallas with Tony Romo as his quarterback led to Bryant becoming one of the premier wide receivers in the league. However, issues that seemed to spring from immaturity and the circle of friends and family around him continued. This led to the controversial "Dez rules", which were reported to have been imposed on him after an alleged incident of domestic violence involving his mother. Wells was a key part of the reported steps taken to try and keep Bryant out of further trouble.

But almost immediately, some questions were raised about just how the "Dez rules" came about, and even just how real they were. Team owner and general manager Jerry Jones stated that the team had not forced anything on him, and at least implied that any steps being taken to provide oversight of Bryant were actually initiated by the receiver himself. Bryant did manage to avoid any serious trouble, although his often emotional behavior on the sidelines was a subject of constant discussion and criticism. Despite appearances, the team consistently maintained that he was a positive voice on the team, and that people were misinterpreting what was actually happening because the frequent camera shots of his animated behavior did not capture the real message he was trying to get across. It certainly never affected his production on the field as he was consistently the most potent weapon for Romo throughout.

The truth about the "Dez rules" may never be known. Jones has a long history of seemingly contradictory statements concerning the team. His off-the-cuff responses often seem to include a certain misunderstanding of the questions, and sometimes appear to be given with an incomplete grasp of the details. Over time he has turned more and more of the daily running of the team over to his son Stephen and head coach Jason Garrett. But he remains the spokesman for the franchise. With his frequently demonstrated penchant for convoluted, even confusing language, his remarks sometimes serve more to cloud the issue about things than anything else. This may also be deliberate. Like most NFL franchises, the Cowboys often prefer to keep the inner workings of the team as concealed as they can. This runs counter to Jones' obvious attraction to any microphones and cameras that cross his path, but he seems to have found his own way of diverting and confusing reporters while still basking in the spotlight.

If you take a step back and look at the bigger picture, Bryant does show signs that he has matured, and one plausible explanation of what is going on is that he feels he no longer needs Wells to fulfill the role of mentor and de facto personal manager. One thing that he is seeking to terminate is the degree of control Wells has over his finances.

The Feb. 20 letter sent to Wells from (attorney Jordan) Siev notified Wells that "any and all powers of attorney granted to you by Mr. Bryant ... have been revoked, rescinded and terminated in their entirety and effective immediately.

"For the avoidance of any doubt, you do not have the requisite permission or authorization to hold yourself out to carry third parties as Mr. Bryant's representative for any purpose, involve yourself in any manner whatsoever with Mr. Bryant's sponsorship and endorsement deals, collect any monies that Mr. Bryant may earn from his sponsorship, promotional and endorsement activities and use Mr. Bryant's name, or Dez I Enterprises, Inc., in connection with any existing business interests or future opportunities."

There are several valid and plausible reasons that can be seen for this. First, Bryant's new agents almost certainly see this as a conflict with their own role. They certainly would see all of the now terminated functions of Wells as encroaching on their own interests in representing Bryant. Wells in essence became a superfluous level of management of Bryant's affairs. He also was certainly not doing all of that for nothing, and had become another siphon of Bryant's income.

Bryant also probably felt he has grown enough as an individual to no longer need adult supervision. He is hoping to become financially secure in his life with a long-term deal, either this season or after he plays out the franchise tag. Additionally, there is the likelihood that Wells was one voice too many. His advice may have been contradictory to that of Bryant's new agents. Wells himself has some questionable issues in his past. And his involvement in Bryant's life seems excessive. Bryant lived with Wells for a handful of years before moving to a rental property near Wells' home. He is reportedly looking for another place to live to literally distance himself.

Wells also is seen as having close ties with the Cowboys organization, and his advice to Bryant may have been intended to help the team as much if not more than Bryant. This question of divided loyalty is a good argument for the steps that have been taken to move Wells out of the picture.

Bryant himself is taking a clear position that this is all in accordance with his own wishes.

While this has to have some impact on the eventual resolution of the contract situation, it also gives every appearance of being more about a person trying to take more complete charge of his own life. But given the fact that this involves the most visible and over-analyzed team in the NFL and one of the most polarizing and dynamic players in the league, there will be controversy. Or at least there will be an attempt to create some. For now, the fans of the Cowboys will just have to wait to see how this all plays out.

Follow me @TomRyleBTB

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