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Spagnola: Life Always Seems To Get In The Way

IRVING, Texas – This is not a good day to be writing sports. Pretty insignificant.

Life just jumps in the way.

The idea was to get us all ready for the start of next week's rookie training camp, that three-day session here at The Ranch before the Cowboys set sail for the West Coast for the complete start to training camp with an opening press conference in Oxnard, Calif., on July 29 and the first practice the next day.

It was to point out how the Cowboys head into this intense three and a half week preparation period with the incentive of the season-ending loss to the New York Giants that kept them out of the playoffs tattooed to their very souls. How that loss equally haunts them and inspires them.

Said Cowboys owner Jerry Jones, "Seems like yesterday when we were just finishing up in New York, not a good memory but it did inspire us to do a lot of the things we did in the offseason, which we're going to benefit from and it really starts now.

"I'm more excited today than I was when we started 24 years ago."

But in the midnight hour of Friday morning we once again are reminded of the imperfections of this life we lead, of how very precious our time on this earth really is, on how you just never know, you know.

Come on, a movie theater? Can't be safe there? Seriously?

Evidently not in Aurora, Colo., where yet another mentally-imbalanced person systematically opened fire at the premier show of The Dark Night Rises just after midnight, armed with canisters of like tear gas, a shotgun, rifle, bullet-proof vest, gasmask and an insidious intent to kill.

He has, the count initially a dozen, but with the injured total at least 71 and mounting, the fatality count is certain to rise, probably by time this is read, although he will remain nameless since I'm guessing his goal was to call attention to his name. Equally chilling is that I've already been told of two people we've known here at The Ranch who went to a midnight premier showing of the same movie, one actually at another theater in Denver.

Telling you, you just never know, and this certainly brought back haunting memories from three years ago when the Cowboys indoor practice facility out here collapsed on top of 80-some of us, and how truly fortunate I am to be alive today, along with everyone else who was in there that horrible day, although four guys here at The Ranch still carry some serious, life-altering scars. I mean, come on, we were watching football practice.

These people were watching a movie.

Several years back it was going to school in suburban Denver.

Or to work and day care at a federal building in Oklahoma City.

Or tornadoes ripping through the privacy of your own home in Tuscaloosa, Ala.

Are there really no safe rooms out there?

And not to suggest this is even remotely as tragic as those events, but evidently not even being at your mama's house on a Saturday afternoon … if you are one Desmond Bryant. My gosh.

He gets charged with domestic abuse last weekend while at his mama's house. Appalling he struck his mama with a hat and reportedly grabbed and bruised her wrists and ripped a shirt in the alleged struggle.

As appalling to me, anyway, as his mama calling 911 on her own flesh and blood.

As appalling as this local and national lynch-mob rush to justice, convicting Dez and not only sentencing him, but also suspending him from the NFL before the legal system plays out. And that's what's happening now.

So let's deal with the facts. The DeSoto (Texas) Police Department is sending the Class A misdemeanor to the district attorney's office. What then will take place is the DA will conduct his own investigation, and that likely will include interviewing Dez Bryant, his mom Angela Bryant and anyone else who was at the scene, trying to get the facts on what exactly took place last Saturday, and not just go on what she said on the 911 call.

After that, the DA will decide if his office will go forward prosecuting the charge. And if it comes to that, there is a very good chance Dez Bryant's people will try negotiating some sort of plea bargain, hoping to make this entire messy scene go away as quickly as possible with as little repercussion as possible.

Now this will come as no shock, but evidently Angela Bryant already is backing off on her initial statement, and I'm told Dez and his 37-yerar-old mom have patched up whatever caused them to get into each other so badly that day. And since this is a misdemeanor, if the complainant doesn't want to press charges, then there is a good possibility this will go away.


But another shoe might still fall. The NFL security department is monitoring what is taking place and gathering all the reports, which then will be sent to the league office. And as happens with all these legal sort of cases, the league then will conduct an evaluation of Dez to determine if there is a program he needs to participate in before a decision is made on any possible punishment.

Funny how so many rush to judgment and the legal and league systems take their time for thorough investigations.

Now there are reports out that Dez has admitted to doing whatever Angela said, but I find it quite curious on how most people are taking a woman who has been arrested 17 times – twice for preventing her son from attending school while growing up – at her word. In her own rage, is there at least a slim chance she embellished what actually took place? Just a slim?

As for Dez, he seemed to be in good spirits on Thursday when he bounded into the weight room to get in a workout. As chaotic as his life has been from birth, living with this person and that person and never really having his own bed in his own room until he arrived at his Oklahoma State dorm, this all has probably been just another day. Funny how a kid grows up parentless and then the minute he's drafted, he's surrounded by family.

This kid, and I do mean kid, has been through a lot in just less than 24 years, growing up basically parentless. There is a story in The Oklahoman quoting one of his former teachers from Lufkin, Texas, on how several teachers at the school would bring extra food to work just so they could feed Dez; how he would sleep in his clothes at night because he never knew where he might be moving to the next day. There are stories from those in Lufkin of how a former high school football coach, the late John Outlaw, tried his best to raise this basically homeless kid.

And The Oklahoman columnist Berry Tramel received a call from former Lufkin and NFL football player Bryan Gilmore, who put in eight years in the league and had reached out to Dez while he was at Oklahoma State. Gilmore told Tramel, "If you want to call out someone, call out Deion Sanders," in reference to the dinner Dez had with Deion that Dez ended up lying about to the NCAA that got him suspended for the rest of his junior season. "He didn't even call me after that. I personally tried to keep him away from that."

If anyone needed four years of college to mature, not only as a football player but as a man on his own, it was Dez Bryant.

These are the facts you, too, should be loaded with before trying, convicting and sentencing this kid by yourself, and certainly not a bleeding liberal plea for sympathy for an athlete who was anything but pampered while he was growing up. Let's not cut him just yet, nor suspend him until all the facts are in.

As for the Cowboys' culpability, they knew when they drafted him with the 24th pick in 2010 that doing so came with a responsibility to hold his hand, to nurture him, to give him every tool imaginable to help him mature – again, on and off the field. He just hasn't had the normal life experience most of us were fortunate to have by age 24.

 So carry on. He has three years remaining on his contract. He has boundless amounts of talent if he can ever escape the shackles of his upbringing and the ones provided by those who continually try to take advantage of him.

Life, huh, never easy.

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