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Thoughts On The Dez Bryant & Roy Williams "Hazing" Issue

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I know Robbie was pleased we didn't cover the Dez Bryant-Roy Williams news in depth like everyone else, but I just couldn't resist giving my own opinion.

It didn't take long, but just three days into training camp Dez Bryant finds himself in the middle of a controversy. That this controversy is almost entirely media-driven and that this wouldn't be news with almost any other player on any other team is beside the point; Bryant and Roy Williams are now having to face intense scrutiny over something extremely dumb it really can't be described as "news".

I'm not certain how word of this incident got out -- more specifically, the context in which Williams informed the media of what happened -- but since then there have been numerous blog posts and 'reports' centered around how a rookie refused to follow through on what is traditionally a rite of passage in football.

This whole thing is nonsense and is barely news-worthy. Yet this is the Dallas Cowboys and since everyone else is giving their opinion, I might as well do the same thing.

First of all, I highly doubt that Bryant's refusal to carry Williams' shoulder pads was meant as disrespectful and was certainly not a "diva" move. Unfortunately that's the way it's being perceived in the media, but if you have been paying attention to everything Bryant has said and done over the past week you realize he's doing everything in his power to shed the misconceptions about his maturity leading up to the draft. That he would just throw that away by willfully dissing a teammate is highly surprising.

Personally, I don't think Bryant realized what his refusal would turn into. He declined to talk to the media today after practice and it seems that he's certainly been made aware of just how thin a line he walks as a high-profile receiver for the Dallas Cowboys.

The sad thing is that, as I said earlier, if this was Jordan Shipley refusing to carry Chad Johnson's pads in Cincinnati, I highly doubt we waste as much time on that "story". But this is Dez Bryant and the Dallas Cowboys, and the attending media has been just itching for anything resembling controversy.

I can just see it, although I wasn't there. Roy Williams recounting the story to the media, who then scurry as fast as they can to Bryant to get his rebuttal. Then they scurry off to condemn one side or the other. For the most part, the media has taken the stance that this is a "diva move" by Bryant and that he should never hesitate to take part in a rite of passage, especially one as harmless as carrying shoulder pads.

Whether it's harmless or not, this whole incident centers around a form of hazing. Hazing, if handled safely, can actually be sort of fun for those involved -- as long as those being hazed have no problems taking part in said ritual. It can be fun and it can instantly endear you to your teammates. Yet when a person is uncomfortable with the "ritual" or isn't interested in taking part, it's how the rest of the team acts that's important.

Wade Phillips isn't down with hazing at all, but puts up with certain aspects of these rookie rituals as long as those involved are ok with what's going on. Now if Bryant had refused to carry Williams' pads, and was then subjected to ridicule in the locker room, then we'd have an issue on our hands. Yet Wade as instilled an atmosphere in the locker that doesn't allow for such things, which is why this entire incident is absolutely nothing but a minor hiccup during training camp.

For his part, Williams did say this after today's practice:

"Not a big thing," Williams said. "A big story but not big for us ... It's Dez. Vs. Roy, that's the big story, that's the big deal. And that's not how it should be."

Jason Witten said that the matter has already been handled internally. I'm sure that Dez was playfully informed of the error in judgment, some light ribbing ensued and then everyone moved on. Keith Brooking didn't sound too pleased that story even got out.

I'm also fairly certain that when Williams originally told his side of the story yesterday, he was telling it in a light and joking manner. Unfortunately, that context is lost when transferred to text online and in the paper.

This whole incident just spotlights how high-profile this team is. Unfortunately, this has also seemed to turn fans against Roy Williams even more, which is something I don't understand. In the end, these players all play for the same team we want to win -- you'd think everyone would want every player to succeed.

As it is, here's hoping this just quietly goes away and I'm fairly certain no one will remember it after the first preseason game. After a summer that was completely void of controversy, the media was ready for the slightest hint of something extraneous to write about.

Fortunately, the Cowboys players themselves have been able to handle it just they way it should be: internally and quietly.

Photographs by jamesbrandon, jdtornow, phlezk, flygraphix, mcdlttx, tomasland, and literalbarrage used in background montage under Creative Commons. Thank you.