The Dallas Cowboys are one of the most popular NFL teams and have been named by Forbes magazine as the most valuable sports team in the world for the past six years. No wonder, then, that they have featured so many elite players in their ranks who have made an impact on the sport of American football. In this article, we take a brief look at the life and career of Dez Bryant who was a stalwart of the Cowboys’ lineup from 2010 to 2017.
Beginnings – Constant Moves in Texas
Born in Texas in 1988, Dez Bryant had a difficult upbringing. His mother was just 15 when she gave birth to him, andwas forced into selling drugs to make ends meet. When Bryant was eight, his mother was arrested for selling crack-cocaine and spent 18 months in prison.
He had absolutely no stability through his teen years, constantly moving home. At times he had to stay with an aunt, with friends, or at his girlfriend’s home. With such an upbringing, it’s understandable that he had some disciplinary problems as a young adult.
It was at Lufkin High School that Bryant would develop his football talents. He played for their Panthers team and led the team to a 14-1 win record. He had an excellent senior year which ultimately led to him being listed as a four-star recruit.
Recruitment and College Years
Bryant was considered one of the top 10 wide receivers in the 2007 class. He was recruited by several college football programs, including most of the “Big 12”,and eventually decided on Oklahoma State University.
Throughout his three years of college, Bryant showed great promise and was often regarded as one of the top NFL picks. He participated in the 2007 Insight Bowl and the 2008 Holiday Bowl, and was considered by many to bea contender for the Heisman Trophy. But his time at the OSUCowboys ended prematurely when he was suspended after three games of the 2009 season.
He became the subject of an NCAA investigation into contact that he’dhad with former NFL player Deion Sanders. That interaction itself wasn’t the problem‒ the problem was that he lied to the NCAA about it, which violated an NCAA bylaw that deals with “ethical conduct”.
Success with the Dallas Cowboys
As a decorated college football player, Bryant was selected by the Dallas Cowboys as 24th pick in the first round of the 2010 NFL draft.
Bryant made an impressive start to his professional career. During his rookie season, he ended with 561 yards, 45 receptions, and six touchdowns, breaking several Cowboys rookie records. He earned a spot on the NFL All-Rookie Team.
In the years that followed, his Cowboys career went from strength to strength, and he became an integral part of the team. His best season was undoubtedly 2014, when he helped his team reach the playoffs for the first time since 2009 and he had his only first-team All-Pro selection. His fellow players ranked him 15th in the 2015 NFL Top 100 playerslist.It was also this year that he was the NFL receiving touchdowns leader.
Over the next few seasons, Bryant suffered numerous minor injuries that reduced his playing time and hampered his effectiveness on the field. Finally, after eight years with the Dallas Cowboys, Bryant was released in April 2018.
Injury Troubles with the New Orleans Saints
Around halfway into the 2018 regular season, Bryant signed a one-year deal with the New Orleans Saints. However, his poor luck with injuries continued when he suffered an ACL tear during practice just two days after signing his contract, and he was not able to turn out for his new team. After missing the entire season, he did not sign with a new team.
Final Years and Free Agency with the Baltimore Ravens
In 2020 Bryant was signed to the Baltimore Ravens practice squad and managed to get onto the active roster for two weeks in November before being relegated to the practice squad. He managed sporadic playing time with the Ravens but ultimately failed to get back to his form of old.Since 2020, he has not played professional football.
The career of Dez Bryant goes to show how fleeting a career in professional sports can be. This promising talent had numerous years of NFL success despite a difficult upbringing. However, that success was somewhat dampened by a crushing Achilles injury that Bryant never really recovered properly from. Although he managed to make a comeback with the Ravens, this was short-lived and he remains an unsigned free agent at the time of writing.