DETROIT – Simply put, Dez Bryant does not care about the outward perception of his temperament.
That's not a hypothesis or a guess, but a direct quote. Bryant's sideline spats with his teammates – not one, but two separate incidents – stole the spotlight of a heartbreaking loss to the Lions on Sunday.
The TV images of the young wideout engaging in shouting matches with Tony Romo and Jason Witten are bound to leave a lasting impression.
"I don't care," Bryant said. "The only reason why I don't care is because of all the passion is not about me, it's all about winning."
It's a familiar storyline at this point. The perception is that Bryant is prone to passionate displays when the ball isn't coming his way. It happened when he managed just 22 yards in the season-opening win against New York, and then again this weekend.
Against Detroit, he touched the ball just four times for 73 yards, despite the fact that 50 percent of those touches went for touchdowns. Despite that, Bryant said it's not about his statline – it's just the way he plays the game.
"When I'm on the field, even when I look angry, it's still all good passion. It's all good passion – that's what we need … I love this game, I love it," he said. "I'm passionate about this game – you have to be. You've got to let the dog come out and just put it all out."
For evidence, Bryant referenced reporters to Terrance Williams' fourth quarter touchdown catch. After Williams took a short pass and housed it, 60 yards to the end zone, Bryant was one of the first Cowboys down the field to celebrate with the rookie.
"This is what I want y'all to do: go back and look at when Terrance scored the touchdown," he said. "Go look at that, you're going to see the same thing."
His teammates will back up that sentiment. Romo felt the brunt of Bryant's wrath after the Cowboys failed to score a touchdown on a third quarter possession. But Romo agreed with Bryant's assessment, saying the wideout is "never a self-first guy."
"I'm sure you have seen him get emotional, which happens every game. He's a competitive guy. He's never complained to me about getting the ball," Romo said. "He knows that the ball going's to where it's supposed to. He knows that. When you guys see sometimes see emotions from Dez, it's just trying to 'rah, rah' more than it is being a 'me' guy. That's not who Dez is. I think that would be completely out of character for him if there was ever a 'me' situation."
That's bound to draw polarizing opinions, especially given Dallas' opposition Sunday afternoon. The Cowboys were playing opposite Calvin Johnson, who put up the second-highest receiving total in NFL history, all while keeping an even keel.
Bryant had a message to anyone hoping for that type of calm demeanor from him: too bad.
"That's y'all's problem -- that's all y'all's problem. Everybody knows who I am, and it's been that way since Day 1 – the day that I got drafted. I told y'all," he said. "Don't get it twisted. I love this game, I love my teammates, and that's what it is. It's going to remain the same. It started in Pop Warner, went to middle school, went to high school, went to college, and it's here. It's going to stay that way – it won't change."
The Cowboys seem to have accepted that, even if others don't. Bryant and Witten shared a hug in the postgame locker room, after nearly coming to blows in the game's dying moments.
"Basically, they just wanted me to calm down just because the fact that -- y'all all seen that. They scored at the end of the game. Who wouldn't be furious? That's all that was," Bryant said.
Cowboys owner/general manager Jerry Jones also defended the receiver's passion following the game, while Cowboys coach Jason Garrett spoke to his team's competitive nature.
"We have a lot of competitive people on our football team and you probably wouldn't be on our football team or our coaching staff if you weren't competitive," Garrett said.
That bodes well for Bryant, who didn't border on apologetic. Pressed close around Bryant's locker, one reporter asked if there was such a thing as being too passionate. The answer was emphatic.
"There's no such thing. There's no such thing as being too passionate. You've got to have that," Bryant said. "You've got to have that to win games, I'm sorry. Anybody disagrees with that, you've got a serious problem."