While the release of Dez Bryant didn’t come as a shock to some fans, the exact reasons for the decision still remain a mystery. There has been a lot of speculation about who was the driving force behind his departure. Was it offensive coordinator Scott Linehan who didn’t take kindly to Bryant’s open analysis of the lack of creativity in his offense? Or maybe it was Stephen Jones, whose command over the team’s salary cap doesn’t allow room for overpriced receivers like his father once did with Miles Austin and Roy Williams.
When Bryant was released, he didn’t go quietly. The former Cowboys receiver was clearly upset by the team’s decision to part ways with him after eight seasons as he didn’t feel he was treated fairly and would go on record by saying:
“I’ll say this right here: I believe that ‘Garrett guys’ [played a role in my departure],” Bryant said. “I would say that. I believe that. I truly believe it.”
Garrett guys? Who is that exactly? I’m guessing it’s those players that the head coach hold in high regard, like his basketball buddies - Jason Witten and Tony Romo?
Jason Witten is the epitome of a coaches best friend. He does everything that is asked of him. But what about Tony Romo? Recently, a little bit of locker room insight was leaked by a former Cowboys player. Phillip Tanner was a backup running back and special teams player for Dallas from 2011 to 2014. On the Gridiron Gals Special Edition - DEZ-GATE, the former running back was asked if Romo was a Garrett guy and this is what he had to say:
“Contrary to everyone’s belief, #9 was not a Garrett guy.”
Tanner gave some examples of why he felt that Romo did not fall into that group.
“Communication. Sideline communication, body language, media, post-game interviews - whether it’s post-game interviews from Garrett or post-game interviews from Romo. You can look at Romo and Garrett’s body language throughout the entire time they were there and you could see that Ro was not a Garrett guy. From times at practice you would see it, in meetings you would see it. They didn’t have a bad relationship. I don’t want people saying ‘oh, PT said Romo and Garrett didn’t get along.’ That’s not what I’m say. All I’m saying is Romo was not a Garrett guy.
The post-game interviews, that’s what I would put more time into as far as how they both felt differently about certain situations of the game.”
Tanner was asked if this had anything to do with how often Romo changed the plays?
“A lot. It has a lot to do with that. The confidence level and the trust factor between those two.”
Remember in 2011 when Romo threw three second-half interceptions, helping the Cowboys to blow a 27-3 lead against the Detroit Lions? The following week the Cowboys would blow another late-fourth quarter lead losing to the New England Patriots after Garrett’s offense became ultra-conservative.
Then, there was that collapse against the Green Bay Packers in 2013 when Romo checked out of a running play and misfired on a slant pass to Miles Austin, resulting in a costly interception.
Could these things have caused some of the trust issues Tanner alludes to?
He would then go on to describe what a “Garrett guy” is.
“A Garrett guy is a guy who is the first guy in, last guy out. A Garrett guy is going to be on the practice field 20 minutes early and don’t leave off the practice field until 20 minutes after everyone. That’s a Garrett guy. A guy who’s going to put that time in every summer, no matter what level he is. Whether he’s a Hall of Famer, All-Pro, he’s going to come in during the summer time and he’s working out with the walk-ons or rookie free agents.”
Tanner would get specific about which players fall into this category. And his answer shouldn’t surprise anyone.
And that’s one thing I can say about 82. 82 is a Garrett guy. 82 may be the President of Garrett guy, beside #50 and those guys are well deserving of it and I’ve seen the work they’ve put in to earn that Garrett guy badge. They are not playing golf in the offseason. They are in the weight rooms with your bubble guys, with your Phillip Tanners and your Lance Dunbars and the guys who are scrapping the wall, holding on for dear life to make the team.
And just how powerful is Jason Witten?
I think he’s the most powerful guy to walk in the locker room. The work he has put in. I’ve seen 82 run down on kickoffs. I’ve seen 82 play special teams. I’ve seen what he did in the community. If a Dallas Cowboy come in, it’s like - go follow 82. Go do what #82 does. And he earns it. The guy plays with a broken jaw. Relentless. You always see Garrett say that word, relentless, relentless, relentless. Jason Witten is relentless. 82 ruptured his spleen; still played. Every third day the vets would have the option to take a day off. 82 was the only guy who would never take his day off. Every day 82 runs to the field, and runs off the field. 82 earned it.
Dez said that these “Garrett guys” had a role in his departure, but do players really have a say in whether a players stays or goes? Tanner believes so.
“Yes. And I’ve seen it. With 17, the old 17 (Dwayne Harris). And that was one of the first times I’ve seen it happen. Seeing him go in and out the huddle and how 9 would look at him and how 9 would feel about him, how his production would go up and down based on how a player felt about a certain player.
If #9 feel that you fit the mold, then you’re there. If not, then it’s going to be hard for you to stay, and be productive. And we all know, without production, you don’t play. Being able to produce and show what you can do keeps you on the team. If you can’t do that, then that’s their leeway of saying ‘we don’t need this guy.’ Whether the guy messed up on his own, or that he never got the opportunity to show what he can and cannot do.”
Is it possible that the relationship between Dak Prescott and Bryant has gone cold to where it has made a significant impact on the value of Dez to this team?
He offers up some advice for anyone wanting to play for the Cowboys.
“What I tell young players is that character buys you life lines. So being a Garrett guy, it buys you life lines. You’re just not that stellar athlete, but in there working hard every day, you’re a smart guy, you’re a first class guy, it buys you lifelines.”
Tanner would go on to say that Dez’ behavior did not sit well with Garrett from the get-go.
“I don’t think Jason Garrett ever wanted to draft Dez Bryant. I have my reasons to feel that way and I have facts to back that up. I don’t think JG was a huge fan of the X. Over time, it got better and it got worse and there could have been some ‘I told you so’ moments whenever Dez’ name came up in a negative way, but the kid grew up. Some of the off-field incidents just really rubbed JG the wrong way. The jewelry incident, the North Park incident, all those types of incidents, he was like the step-child. Garrett is not too fond of this child that is in the house, that’s not his.
Tony Romo is no longer a Dallas Cowboy. And as of last week, neither is Dez Bryant. While it may look like the head coach is a huge fan of these players on the surface, things appear to be quite a bit different behind closed doors.