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By Jonathan Bales

Why Dez Bryant’s Refusal to Carry Roy Williams’ Pads Could Become a Big Deal

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By Jonathan Bales

Rookies of all talent levels–from first-rounders to undrafted free agents–are often “asked” to participate in rites of passage.  One of the more common forms of hazing is the veteran players forcing the rooks to carry their pads.  The task is simple and easy, yet ultimately conveys a message: no matter who you are, no matter where you are from, you must earn respect to play in the NFL.  Dallas Cowboys players must earn their star.

I’ve written about the on-field battle in which Dez Bryant and Roy Williams will partake, but earlier today the two may have created a minor off-field issue when Bryant refused to carry the pads of Williams.  Said Bryant:

I’m not doing it. I feel like I was drafted to play football, not carry another player’s pads. If I was a free agent, it would still be the same thing. I just feel like I’m here to play football. I’m here to try to help win a championship, not carry someone’s pads. I’m saying that out of no disrespect to [anyone].

Bryant’s stance is simple.  As a grown man, carrying another player’s pads is demeaning.  For Bryant, it is a man-to-man issue and would still exist even if Bryant was undrafted instead of the Cowboys’ top pick.

Williams has a different take on the situation:

“Everybody has to go through it,” Williams said. “I had to go through it. No matter if you’re a No. 1 pick or the 7,000th pick, you’ve still got to do something when you’re a rookie.

“I carried pads. I paid for dinners. I paid for lunches. I did everything I was supposed to do, because I didn’t want to be that guy.”

Williams recognizes the rites of passage that are inherent to the NFL.  For grown men (and some of the strongest ones in the world) who work incessantly, carrying a helmet and shoulder pads a few hundred feet isn’t all that difficult.  When he asked Bryant to carry his pads, it wasn’t out of laziness or disrespect–it was really a way for the two to bond.

Of course no one knows for sure what was going through Bryant’s mind, but it seems as though he is magnifying the level to which carrying a fellow player’s pads is demeaning and misunderstanding the deeper reasoning behind it.  The NFL is like a club–if you want to join, you really oughta play by their rules.

The primary reason it is so imperative for Bryant to toe the company line is due to a less-than-flattering perception of him that likely still exists.  Whether Bryant or his agent (Eugene Parker) admit it, repairing that image was one of the major reasons they were willing to complete Bryant’s contract so quickly, making him the first player selected in the first-round to sign a deal.

While Bryant doesn’t view it this way, acting “bigger than the team” by refusing to carry a player’s pads (as a rookie) can only tarnish his reputation–a reputation he has worked diligently to salvage.

Of course, Bryant isn’t purposely attempting to stir up trouble or act like a diva.  Instead, the refusal was a misinterpretation.  Bryant is viewing the pad carrying for what it is, perhaps missing the larger picture of team chemistry that it invokes.

Let’s hope this issue doesn’t transform into something larger.  Williams already responded to the idea that it won’t take long for Bryant to become the starter by saying, “I bought a Ford F-250 2011.  Everybody loves a new car but I also have a 2004 Navigator that’s still running.  So that’s the way I feel.”

Bryant may be a new Ford F-250, but his refusal to carry Williams’ pads won’t help his image among fans, media, and where it counts the most–within the Dallas locker room.  He may be wise to appease the old 2004 Navigator that currently has the parking spot he covets.


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17 Responses to Why Dez Bryant’s Refusal to Carry Roy Williams’ Pads Could Become a Big Deal

  1. Tyrone Jenkins says:

    Agreed.

    I sure hope this isnt the 1st of many little “attitude” issues w/ Dez. There was a reason he dropped in the draft (and another WR was drafter ahead of him). Tremendous talent that just doesn’t “get it.”

  2. moses says:

    I am still hoping that Dez wakes up and becomes a team player. Working through the rituals and traditions of the team is part of becoming part of the team.

    I know this is a bit of a stretch but what happens in game situations where Dez doesn’t want to do something. Will he refuse because he feels it is beneath him? Wow, is he turning into TO faster than TO turned into TO?

  3. johncoleman says:

    I’m really stunned by the first two comments here. Until this everybody is eating Dez up. Hazing is BS to start with. I think if some of the guys like Miles or Tony talk to him he will go along. No matter what I still say it is BS. What good is a guy like Roy who went along but can’t play? The game is football and about the skills that are necessary to play the game. Dez has been the model citizen so far in every way. If a majority of the team has a problem with it then let them handle it in the lockeroom. I think it is ridiculous and Roy hardly commands that type of respect.

  4. I do think this was a misunderstanding. If so, Dez might be smart to go out of his way to carry Williams pads. The gesture would show he has thought about it more and recognizes the significance of the duty.

  5. We’ll see how Bryant responds to this though. He made a mistake…perhaps he will redeem himself.

  6. John. . .we definitely have different opinions on this. Neither right or wrong, just different. Bryant has done everything asked of him up until now (and I think he will act appropriately in the future), but I do think the pad carrying is more about Dez and less about Williams. Williams’ skill level isn’t the issue–it is his tenure. Having said that, would you still think Bryant was right to not carry the pads if Romo had asked?

  7. Pingback: Cowboys Video: Dez Bryant Training Camp Highlights | Dallas Cowboys Times

  8. Tyrone Jenkins says:

    Neither right nor wrong? I’ll go with wrong.

    Anybody’s who been a little brother or HS freshman or college student has experienced a little good natured “ribbing” at least once. Carry someone else’s pads is haxing? Seriously?

    It has trully become a overly sensitive world if a person who runs over, through and around others who are trying to tackle and mame that person is being hazed by having to carry a veteran’s teammates pads.

    What needs to happen now is someone ELSE (say an O lineman or LBer) or maybe a couple of guys walk straight up to Dez after the next practice and say “Hey, rookie, now you need to carry all of our pads.” If he balks at it, then they need to have a good ole dogpile on the rookie.

    It might even help if they do the same to the other rookies.

  9. Chris says:

    I’m on board with Tyrone. I don’t like Roy at all, but the veterans on the team need to send a message to Mr. Bryant. If Dez comes up against a unified squad of vets and still causes a fuss, then I hope Keith Brooking lays him out. Teach him the lessons now that could come up big later.

  10. It’s a tough issue, but I understand both sides. Obviously you guys know my stance on the issue from the article, but I like the idea of having another veteran (Romo, Brooking, etc) talk to Dez about it. Dez really could make everything right by just carrying SOMEONE’s pads (or paying for a meal, perhaps) just once.

  11. Pingback: Cowboys Video: Dez Bryant Training Camp Highlights and Scouting Report - NFL Super Bowl Live Online

  12. Pingback: Roy Williams Says Right Things in Bryant Pad Issue | Dallas Cowboys Times

  13. Omar says:

    all rokies do this, why he wouldn’t, doesn’t matter if roy can’t play, i’m sure demarcus ware, future hall of famer, carried pads for an average player vet like al singleton (without offense, even i liked singleton but we all now what’s the distance between these two on the field)

  14. Good points…Dez did say today he didn’t know carrying pads was tradition and he will do whatever the vets want, so we will see how he responds. He could have a fairly large lunch bill in his future.

  15. Omar says:

    This is the single dumbest sports controversy I’ve ever seen, he needs to perform on the field. The only reason why this is an issue is because Dez Bryant is taking Roy’s job in about five seconds. He doesn’t want to carry Williams’ pads? Who gives a shit. It’s stupid and childish anyways, by the time September starts this will all be forgotten.

  16. Pingback: Roy Williams Says Right Things in Bryant Pad Issue - NFL Super Bowl Live Online

  17. Pingback: Best NFL Rookie Hazing Picture Ever: Travis Ivey Wearing 3 Sets of Pads

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