Dez Bryant, fearing he had suffered a serious knee injury, did not want to get an MRI, so he just didn’t show up to work.
Seriously, that’s real.
Bryant missed team meetings Monday and Tuesday. He also missed Wednesday’s meeting while actually getting the scan, which revealed a hairline fracture. Jason Garrett’s response to Bryant’s no-shows? No big deal. Yes, Garrett excused Bryant’s behavior, saying Bryant is an “emotional person” who “didn’t handle it the right way.”
“That’s unacceptable,” Tiki Barber said on CBS Sports Radio’s Tiki and Tierney. “I understand what Jason Garrett is trying to do. He’s trying to take the pressure of Dez Bryant (so the media doesn’t eviscerate him), but you make it worse by making an excuse.”
Even worse, Garrett made an excuse for a player whom Barber does not consider elite.
“Dez Bryant is going to be a good wide receiver for the next five or six years,” Barber said. “He’s not going to be not elite. He’s not going to be Antonio Brown. He can’t stay healthy. He cannot stay healthy. Period. He’s not going to be Julio Jones numbers-wise. That’s elite status.”
Bryant, to be fair, had 1,320 yards and 16 touchdowns in 2014.
“That was a couple of years ago,” Barber said. “Then he missed (part of 2015) with a foot injury, now he’s going to miss at least two weeks with a knee injury, and you get these off-the-field things. That’s not consistency – and if you’re not consistent, to me, I’m sorry, you’re not elite. So he’s going to be there for a couple of years as a good wide receiver.”
Barber just hopes Bryant doesn’t create a toxic locker-room environment in the process.
“Look, you got a young team,” Barber said. “You got Ezekiel Elliott. You got Dak Prescott. You got La’el Collins. You got all these impressionable, young men stepping into their first experience in the National Football League, and you have your best wide receiver not showing up for two days? Come on. Seriously? And you’re gong to say he just didn’t want to hear bad news? No. You come down hard on him. You have to. Because if you don’t, then every other guy is going to be like, ‘Well I can get away with whatever the hell I want to because Dez Bryant got away with it.’
“Do you see Dez Bryant as a superstar?” Barber continued. “To me, elite is I know what I’m getting every single Sunday and there’s no question about it. I don’t see that all the time with Dez Bryant. Can Dez be great? Of course he can. He’s as gifted of a wide receiver as there is in football. But there’s a side part that he just is not comprehending. It’s frustrating because you want him to be great. You like to see greatness, even if it is the Cowboys – a heated rival of my Giants. You still want to see it. That’s why you watch the sport. It’s like he’s cheating us. He’s definitely cheating Cowboys fans. And if you believe that making an excuse for him, Jason Garrett, is going to make him any better, you’re wrong. Just dead-ass wrong.”
Barber and Brandon Tierney compared Bryant’s antics with those of Odell Beckham Jr. There are some similarities between the two, but there are also some differences. Both receivers sometimes lash out, but Bryant, Tierney observed, can be a little aloof.
Either way, Barber wants Beckham to mature.
“What I want for Odell is to take that emotion and channel it into something positive,” he said. “I know it’s hard because he’s not a running back where if you get upset emotionally, you go pound somebody (you’re blocking) or you stick it to a defender. But how many targets does he get in a game? Ten? And you run 60 plays? So there’s a large portion of the game where you’re just not relevant to the outcome. But I would love to see him find a way to channel it into something positive, even if it’s just yelling to encourage his teammates. Don’t go off by yourself.
“He’s a look-at-me player,” Barber continued. “If he’s balling, nobody cares. But as soon as you start losing, as soon as you start drifting a little bit – and it feels like the Giants are vulnerable to a little bit of drift right now – they have to lock it in. Ben McAdoo and Mike Sullivan, the offensive coordinator, they got to lock him in. They can’t allow him to just get up and say, ‘I’m going to be who I am. I’m going to do what I want to do.’ No, you’re part of a team, buddy. You’re a good player. You’re a great player. People love you because of who you are and how you behave and how you act and the touchdowns and the celebrations. But you’re part of a team. And if you don’t recognize that, then somewhere down the line, you will not be part of the team.”
Barber said that Beckham is “without a doubt” a better receiver than Bryant, who, at 27, still seems to not “get it.”
“You have to be there on Monday,” Barber said. “God forbid you miss your team meeting on Wednesday. I know how Jerry Jones operates. I know how Jason Garrett operates. If you get a big win, you get Monday off. But not if you’re hurt. Nowhere in the league will you find that. That just never happens anywhere.”