Prima Donna (noun) - a vain or undisciplined person who finds it difficult to work under direction or as part of a team
Dez Bryant showed up to voluntary workouts on Thursday despite not signing his franchise tender that would pay the twenty-six year old $12.8 million this season. Instead, Bryant is holding out hope, as is every Cowboys fan from here to Taiwan, that he'll receive his extension before the July 15th deadline. However, showing up to join his teammates in the middle of a stalemate shows exactly what type of person Bryant has become.
This is a grown man we are talking about, not the same as he was when he first made his leap to the NFL. As you may remember, Bryant was sidelined in his senior season at Oklahoma State for not disclosing fully his relationship with former Cowboy Deion Sanders. Then Bryant would watch his draft status fall until the 24th pick where Dallas happily took him.
Dez would have a few growing pains in his first few years before he changed the route he was on and has been nothing but elite ever since. His 16 touchdowns are the best in franchise history and he's got the most receiving touchdowns since coming into the league with 56. There have been numerous cases where these things go horribly wrong and it's important to note that Bryant has matured significantly.
The case of Terrell Owens always comes to mind for Cowboys fans. You see, Owens had no problems electrifying coaches and fans alike on gameday. His issues stemmed from the above definition which will forever be attached with the man's legacy. There is no arguing the fact that he is one of the best in NFL history but unfortunately his behavior in the locker room kept him from truly ever reaching his ultimate goal of winning a Super Bowl. It's sad really because the guy ran out of time. However, Dez will not allow himself to tread the same path.
Michael Irvin has been one of the biggest Dez Bryant supporters and has affectionately called him "my son" on many memorable highlight programs. There is a reason for that, they have the same type of intensity radiating from their bodies. Irvin was always famously known for his practice demeanor and the same can be said for Dez. Bryant is the fire from which starts this team's engine. He's arguably the best player on the team and makes everyone better when they are around him.
There is no 12-4 surge to the playoffs last season if not for Bryant standing toe-to-toe with the Richard Shermans of the football world. His showing up on Thursday just speaks volumes to what his priorities are: The Team, The Team, The Team. Think about how unprecedented it was for him to take part in those one-on-one drills on Thursday. It shows not only his commitment to his teammates but to the organization.
If he's not the exact definition of what Jason Garrett calls "the right kind of guy", then I have no idea what is. Team is what Bryant is all about, he knows that his money is coming and sooner rather than later. There is such an amazing chemistry flowing through the halls of Valley Ranch right now, and it's no secret that Bryant's personality is part of the reason. Even when he's not there, leaders like Tony Romo are standing on the table for him. The guys motor just never quits and it translates into everything that he stands for. His often misconstrued on-field actions are of passion and belief in his team. That passion is not something that can be found in every NFL player or even human-being if you will. Dez is an enigma because he's not just "a guy", he's "the guy." No matter if it's helping a rookie Terrance Williams reach his potential or it's playing Madden with the local youth; Bryant is as Ric Flair would say...The Man.
These tired labels of a prima donna and diva may be accurate when talking about some receivers in NFL history, but they do not reflect number 88. He's far removed from those and on a similar path taken by the true greats this league has ever seen. Dez says he's "a Cowboy for life", well he's certainly on his way to earning that permanent star and Thursday's actions only further the notion.