Dez Bryant refuses to carry pads, mistake?

Dallas Cowboys wide receiver Dez Bryant has decided that rookies don’t carry pads at NFL training camp and has refused to participate in a time honored tradition. Perhaps it’s not about all rookies, rather it’s only about him.

We aren’t surprised are we? His quote on the subject was, “I’m not doing it,” Bryant said. “I feel like I was drafted to play football, not carry another player’s pads.”

Didn’t he drop to his NFL draft position solely on the reports of his personal behavior? He was subject to discipline by the NCAA, which if you believe everything Bryant and his mentor Deion Sanders had to say, was much ado about nothing.

Yet, he has put his stake in the ground about a tried and true ritual that has been performed by every big name in the league at one time or another.

Perhaps it was the fact that the person who pointed to the pads and told him to go get them was the guy whose job may just be at risk now that Bryant has landed in Dallas.

Roy Williams, Cowboys starter and a guy who hasn’t lived up to the price paid for him by the team, is now in a tough position.

Williams whined that he had to go through the rookie ritual as did every other player he ever teamed up with. There’s been no specificity on where this should go next but if Williams’ teammates don’t step up and help him out, he’ll be placed in the role of toothless tiger.’s Mike Florio found Shawne Merriman’s suggestion on his Twitter account:” Dump his ass in the COLD TUB,” were Merriman’s words of advice to the Cowboys.

Will Bryant break the culture of rookie hazing as practiced by hulking football players? Not likely and for good reason according to an anonymous player who wrote a piece in last September’s ESPN The Magazine.

“Believe it or not, though, there’s a purpose to this idiotic stuff: It’s an initiation into a culture of respect for the men who played before you,” wrote Player X, offered a chance to weigh-in on the topic.

“The only reason we have million-dollar contracts nowadays is that players before us fought for our rights. So you have to pay your dues, show respect to the veterans.”

I think that pretty much sums up why this won’t go away for Bryant and why he won’t be getting much support from anyone else on the subject.

What a year for HBO’s “Hard Knocks” to be focusing on the New York Jets. Bryant’s comeuppance would be must see TV.

Used with permission of the author.

Paula Duffy is a national sports columnist for and the Huffington Post and regularly comments on sports/legal matters for radio affiliates of ESPN and Fox Sports. She founded the sports information site, Incidental Contact, is the author of a line of audio books designed for sports novices and in her spare time practices law in Los Angeles. 

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