Somewhere deep in your blackened heart you're rooting for Dez Bryant. Like a lot of his colleagues, his childhood was packed with a miniseries' worth of drama and heartbreak, in and out of homes while his mom peddled crack. Then came the leaches, both men and institutions ready to exploit his physical tools while pretending -- they're almost always pretending -- to care about helping him along. That he's squandered some of the gifts the cosmos shoved into this 6-foot-3 vessel is only surprising if your context is the ESPN Bottom Line. In any context larger, it's more remarkable that he's still alive.
So, yeah, you want the new rules to work. The Cowboys, fretting their troubled asset after Bryant allegedly assaulted his mom, have asked the wide receiver to adhere to a strict set of behavioral guidelines, ESPN reported yesterday. They are:
No booze, no strip clubs, no nightclubs without team permission, a midnight curfew, and a full-time security detail to protect Bryant from the most sinister and sneaky of enemies: himself. Plus: Mandatory counseling.
It's hard to imagine the rules having much effect over an entire season. Athletes rarely jump these tracks once they're far enough along, and if they do it takes a while. It's hard to imagine this ending any other way than with a ditched security team and an unsanctioned expedition to Baby Dolls -- and, of course, a really long meeting in the commissioner's office, so Roger Goodell can hose Bryant down in contrived morality.
The Cowboys and their fans will hope against hope that something will click in Bryant -- or, failing that, that his new babysitters have an all-star year, shutting down Bryant's vices like a lock-down secondary. The cosmos stuffed a lot of gifts in there, and they'll get realized eventually, if only briefly. Oh how Jerry and his followers want that realization to come here and now.