Dez Bryant's returns diminishing

Cowboys WR was steal of last year's draft, but missed Valley Ranch meeting is costly

Updated: April 30, 2011, 2:59 AM ET
By Todd Archer |

IRVING, Texas -- Jerry Jones once joked he would be involved in everything involving the Dallas Cowboys from "socks to jocks."

On Friday, the Cowboys owner and general manager added interviewer to his list of job titles.

[+] EnlargeTyron Smith
Tim Heitman/US PresswireFriday's exchange between Tyron Smith (left) and Jerry Jones inadvertently brought Dez Bryant's issues to mind.
"Tyron, how old were you when you started working cleaning commercial buildings?" Jones asked.

Tyron Smith, the Cowboys' first-round pick, said he was 4 when he started working with his father. Sometimes, Smith said, he would work right after school until he had to go back the next day.

"Growing up it was a struggle lifestyle," Smith said. "It taught me the meaning of hard work."

Then Jones asked Smith if the 20-year-old knew the value of a dollar. Smith simply said yes.

"That's a big point here," Jones said. "We were really impressed with the kind of background he had."

Maybe Jones did not mean to do so intentionally, but how could you not think about last year's first-round pick, Dez Bryant, during the back and forth?

Last month, Bryant was tossed from NorthPark Mall in Dallas after a minor run-in with security. We also learned suits totaling roughly $800,000 were filed against Bryant. On Feb. 8, 2010, he spent as much as $144,000, according to court documents, which makes the $55,000 rookie dinner tab in which he picked up a big chunk look like a pittance. He settled a suit of $246,000 with a New York-based jeweler earlier in the month. Another suit remains for more than $600,000 for purchases of jewelry and tickets to sporting events.

[+] EnlargeDez Bryant
Scott Boehm/Getty ImagesDez Bryant's absence from Valley Ranch on Friday will keep the Cowboys' medical staff in the dark about his ankle rehab.
Clearly, Bryant did not know the value of the dollar.

And we have to wonder if he understands what is at stake as he enters his second season.

On Thursday, Jones said he spoke with Bryant on the telephone and said the two would have a face-to-face meeting Friday. Bryant never showed although Jones took the blame, saying he did not have the time to get together because of the lockout discussions with the league office.

"I was able to direct him and talk to him about what I want him to be doing, 99 percent of it, with my direct talk [Thursday], so this would've been more smiling at each other," Jones said. "Really we were able to get through things where I wanted him to be since this is the first chance I had to talk to him."

That's not what Jones said Thursday, so it looks like the team is enabling Bryant.

The Cowboys could not use Bryant's whereabouts as a crutch, either. Jones said Bryant was in town.

Bryant should have been one of the first arrivals at Valley Ranch on Friday just so the medical team could get a look at the healing of the fractured right ankle that knocked him out of the final four games of the season. Once the lockout was imposed, the Cowboys were no longer allowed to be in contact with him directly. They have monitored his rehab through a third party.

He should have been at Valley Ranch to have another get-to-know-you session with new wide receivers coach Jimmy Robinson. They met briefly after Robinson took over the position but could have gone into more detail about what is expected.

He should have been at Valley Ranch to meet with Jason Garrett to show the head coach how serious he is about the rehab and wanting to learn all that goes into playing wide receiver.

He should have been at Valley Ranch to work out with his quarterback, Tony Romo. Bryant tweeted last week he had a good time at lunch with Romo and Andre Gurode, among others. It would have been more beneficial for them to get together inside the film room on Friday to go over some plays.

Bryant's off-field issues do not compare to what has happened some other players this offseason, like Miami wide receiver Brandon Marshall and Tampa Bay cornerback Aqib Talib.

But they should not be dismissed, either.

When Bryant showed up at Valley Ranch the day after last year's draft, Jones was as happy as he could possibly be in grabbing the wide receiver with the 24th pick in the first round. Jones got the steal of the first round with a top-five talent at a relatively basement price.

Jones sure knew the value of a dollar that day.

Todd Archer covers the Cowboys for

Todd Archer

ESPN Dallas Cowboys reporter