It’s always a good idea to take the views of former players lightly especially when they’re about current players. Yes, they know what’s it’s like to be in the NFL but they don’t always know how to judge talent. That’s a skill unto itself and it has nothing to do with being a former player.
With all that being said, the recent comments of hall of fame quarterback, and Dallas Cowboys legend, Roger Staubach are interesting—interesting, because they’re so on target.
“…If he stays healthy, there won’t be a better receiver in the league than Dez Bryant.”
Staubach made those comments after the Cowboys’ first practice of 2013 at AT&T Stadium and after throwing a few passes to the former Oklahoma State University standout.
“I don’t think there’s anybody better at what he can do in the league and there are some great receivers in the league, but what he did in the second half of the year last year is as good as it gets.”
The part of Staubach’s comments we need to parse isn’t the “there won’t be a better receiver” bit but the stuff about Bryant staying healthy.
In the second half of the 2012 season, Bryant amassed 879 receiving yards and scored 10 touchdowns. Of that eight-game stretch Staubach said Bryant was “as good as any receiver in the National Football League.”
Bryant put up those impressive numbers with an injured finger and left the final game of the season with a back injury that nearly rendered him immobile.
Not to contradict a legend, but it appears that Bryant can play, and can play quite well, even if he’s not one-hundred percent healthy.
What Staubach should have said is Bryant needs to be mentally healthy to be the league’s best pass catcher.
Before taking the field in 2012, Bryant was charged with domestic violence for an incident involving his biological mother. He escaped punitive measures from the NFL but not from the “Football Gods.” Bryant stunk during the first half of last season dropping balls and running poor routes.
Clearly, Bryant needs to lead a distraction-less existence to perform at a high level. Pain he can play through. Family strife he cannot.
Bryant’s mother, Angela Bryant, had him when she was just a teenager and was arrested for dealing crack. She’s obviously no Marge Simpson or Claire Dunphy. Now, I don’t know anything about Bryant’s situation, but I do know a little about not getting along with your biological mother. It can be very distracting. It’s also the exact kind of turmoil Bryant needs to avoid to live up to Staubach’s lofty assessment of his talent.
“He makes great plays, he’s got speed, he’s strong, he has great hands. Drew Pearson was like a basketball player, and I wasn’t afraid to throw it into a tight situation because I think he could figure out how to catch it. Some guys can’t do that. I think Dez has the hands. He can do it. You can throw the ball in there and he’s going to figure out how to get it, out of the hands of a linebacker or a defensive back.”
Despite the fact that they played catch, Staubach claims not to know Bryant but he does think he’s a good kid who’s getting his life together.
Then again, Staubach thought the Cowboys would finish the 2012 season with 11 or 10 wins and make the playoffs. Instead, they finished 8-8 and missed the postseason for the third consecutive year.
As for this season, Staubach thinks the Cowboys can win 11 or 12 games.
Further eroding Staubach’s credibility, at least for some, is the fact that he’s the biggest Tony Romo fan in Dallas.
Most football fans may take issue with Staubach’s assessment of the team and their quarterback. His assessment of Dez Bryant however is right on target. If Bryant wants to, he can be the best receiver in the NFL.
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