Dallas Cowboys wide receiver Dez Bryant insists that his sideline meltdown during the third quarter of Sunday’s 31-30 loss to the Detroit Lions was merely a demonstration of his “passion” for the game.
Bryant’s sideline tantrum began after a squandered drive in the third quarter of Sunday’s game, which forced the Cowboys to settle for a field goal and a slim 13-7 lead over the Lions. An animated Bryant returned to the Cowboys sideline and yelled at quarterback Tony Romo, tight end Jason Witten, and just about every other person involved in the team’s offensive efforts.
At one point, Bryant’s argument with Witten, one of the most respected members of the Cowboys’ locker room, grew so heated that DeMarcus Ware, another of the team’s leaders, felt the need to intervene.
While the sideline meltdown drew a ton of negative attention from the media, Bryant insists that his anger comes from a positive place. “My passion is always positive,” Bryant told reporters after the game, via ESPN.com. "It's always positive. It's going to remain the same way. I'm not saying anything wrong. I'm not saying anything bad. It's all positive. That's just what it is.”
“I'm the nicest person off the field,” Bryant continued. “When I'm on the field, even when I look angry, it's still all good passion. It's all good passion. I feel like that's what we need. I'm going to remain the same way. I feel like I love this game. I love it. In order to win, you've got to be passionate about this game. You have to be. You've got to let that dog come out and just put it all out there on the line."
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While Bryant would not address the specific reason behind his meltdown, ESPN speculates that the outburst likely stemmed from Romo’s inability to get the ball to his star wide receiver. In fact, Bryant wasn’t targeted by a pass until the last minute of the first half.
After the game, Romo told reporters that Bryant hadn’t complained about his volume of targets. “He’s never complained to me about getting the ball,” Romo said, according to ESPN.com “He knows that the ball’s going where it’s supposed to be. He knows that.” The Cowboys quarterback claimed that Bryant’s tantrum was directed at the team’s performance as a whole, rather than his own stat line.
Cowboys team owner Jerry Jones was also defensive of his star wide receiver. “Not in any way did it concern me,” owner Jerry Jones said. “It’s not a negative for our team. Matter of fact, when he started that as I saw timing-wise, we started playing better on our offense and the defense didn’t hear it. They were out on the field. It’s not an issue.”
Bryant’s sideline tantrum did seem to jumpstart the Cowboys’ struggling offense. The NFC East squad scored a touchdown on each of their next two possessions. However, Lions wide receiver Calvin Johnson’s 329 receiving yards and a brilliant, last-second drive by quarterback Matt Stafford allowed the Lions to pull out a 31-30 victory.
Bryant’s antics may be fodder for the media, but the 24-year-old has no intention of changing his ways. “That’s [the media's] problem, because everybody knows up in this locker room who I am,” Bryant said. “It’s been that way since Day 1. The day that I got drafted, like I told y’all, don’t get it twisted: I love this game. I love my teammates. That’s what it is.”