IRVING, Texas – Head coach Jason Garrett doesn't see Dez Bryant as a diva receiver worried about personal recognition. In fact, he said Bryant's the furthest thing from that. Bryant can be perceived negatively when he's as animated on the sideline as he was throughout the Cowboys' gut-wrenching loss to the Lions. But Bryant doesn't regret how animated he got, and Garrett doesn't want to take that part of Bryant away.
He just wants the star receiver to channel that passion.
"Typically, it's part of a maturing process, but you never want to take the edge off of it," Garrett said. "Somebody told me a long time ago that it took 13 guys to get Secretariat into the gates when he won by 33 lengths. Thirteen people. What's the lesson there? You know what I'm saying."
His comparison to Bryant is that he has to find a way to channel that ferocity similarly, "and get him in the gates and let him run." Garrett went on to say he loves the enthusiasm from his star receiver, who claims that the team and winning are what's most important to him.
Bryant continues to stress that nothing he said Sunday was as divisive or disruptive as it seemed. He also claims his passionate theatrics had nothing to do with the fact that he only had six targets, three of which were caught and two of which went for touchdowns.
"I'm dead serious, I'm telling you the God's honest truth, it really wasn't," Bryant said. "It was all about winning. I'm telling you, it was all about going out there and winning this game. That was the mindset. I'm so big on if my number is called, whoever's number is called, you've got to make that play. That's what it is with me. It's been that way for a long time."
As an example of that, Bryant noted how he wasn't sulking when the ball didn't go his direction as Terrance Williams caught a 60-yard touchdown pass. Bryant said his immediate reaction was putting up the "No. 1" sign.
"I'm so excited. Boom. We're up 10 now, let's keep on," Bryant said. "You go back to the sideline, you'll see. Let's keep on pressing, let's keep on going, let's keep going. Basically, it's just trying to have that killer instinct."
He said he maintains a tight bond with everyone he was seen getting animated with, including quarterback Tony Romo and tight end Jason Witten. The cameras caught Bryant and Witten having a heated exchange, with DeMarcus Ware eventually coming in to separate Bryant.
Bryant believes the sideline spats were misunderstood and perceived incorrectly. He was upset the Cowboys squandered a fourth-quarter lead, and Witten was trying to get Bryant focused on the ensuing offensive possession with 12 seconds remaining.
"There's no anger at all," Bryant said. "Me and Wit, we laughed and smiled, we even joked about it whenever we got on the bus."
He knows there are hundreds of cameras on the field, but Bryant's less worried about who's watching and more worried about motivating his teammates. He said his comments to Romo weren't confrontational, and that his relationship with the quarterback is outstanding and will "forever remain that way."
Bryant also said he told Romo to keep throwing Williams' way if he's getting single coverage, and he encouraged Williams to exploit that. That's what the game plan called for, and Bryant said he understood that.
"This is a team game, and I think everybody in this locker room knows in my mind and knows in my heart, it's all about winning," Bryant said. "At the end of the day, that's what it's about. Like I said, the reality is we're 4-4 and feel like we're better than that. I didn't say anything out of the way or say anything wrong." [embedded_ad]
He doesn't believe he went too far, and he thinks his teammates and coaches understand and appreciate his passion. Garrett said it's more about channeling that passion in a positive direction, which he addressed with his star receiver during and after the game.
"But you never want to take away that passion, that spirit that he has," Garrett said. "Again, he's as highly respected and as well liked a guy on our football team that we have."
Bryant said this experience has made him realize how he can be viewed, and that he might need to do a better job of understanding how things look. But he also said he can't worry about what people say on the outside.
Whether the experience tempers the way he expresses his actions or not, don't count on it moderating his passion.
"That'll never change," he said. "That's who I am. That's what made me."