Former Dallas Cowboys receiver Dez Bryant is known for speaking his mind. With protests about racial injustice and police brutality happening across the nation, Bryant suggested that Cowboys owner Jerry Jones, as well as son Stephen and former teammate Jason Witten could benefit from attending a march. Those comments set off a whirlwind of speculation as to what Bryant meant. Here’s the latest.
Dez Bryant calls out Jerry Jones and Jason Witten on protests
After attending a Black Lives Matter protest in Austin, Texas, former Dallas Cowboys receiver Dez Bryant took to Twitter on Sunday and raised a few eyebrows in Cowboys country. That’s because Bryant’s post singled out Jerry Jones, his son, and team CEO Stephen Jones, as well as former Cowboys tight end Jason Witten for not attending the event.
“Somebody should have brought Jerry Jones Stephen jones and Jason witten to this protest down in Austin……this is not a policy change this is a heart change and yea I said it,” Bryant wrote.
The feedback from fans was mixed, but one commenter wrote: “So you’re an expert at reading people’s hearts now? Thought God was the only one that could do that. Good to know @DezBryant.”
Jason Witten responds to Bryant
Jason Witten, who is now playing for the Las Vegas Raiders and was a teammate of Bryant’s for eight years in Dallas, saw the original tweet and tried to call him but to no avail. Witten responded via Twitter.
“Dez – When I saw your tweet, I tried to call you. I don’t know what you’re feeling, but I do know what I stand for and believe in. I believe it’s time for change. I believe we must all listen. I believe together is the way. Let’s unite and impact change together. Much Love,” Witten concluded.
While teammates, Bryant and Witten didn’t always see eye to eye. When Bryant was released from the Cowboys in April 2018, there was speculation a certain group of players endorsed his departure, and Witten was the leader. In an interview with CowboysSI.com, Bryant said he holds no animosity toward the future Hall of Famer and believes Witten is an authority figure and respected in the league.
“Anybody who is open to listening and open to change, I’m still his brother. He can’t know what it’s like being a black man walking into a restaurant, and only feeling accepted because he’s an athlete. I don’t know that Witt can know that. Or that Jerry or Stephen can know it. I want them to listen to us telling them that.”
Dez Bryant clarifies his expectations of Jerry and Stephen Jones
While neither Jerry or Stephen Jones commented on Bryant’s initial tweet, Bryant offered CowboysSI.com a more detailed explanation of his expectations for the Jones family. He said he has great respect for Jerry Jones because mostly everything he has learned about business started with him. He knows he’s got a good heart. He’s compassionate. He’s not a racist.
That said, Bryant said Jones could afford some cultural education at this time when the national conversation is focused on listening and understanding what African-Americans endure on a daily basis.
I have love for Mr. Jones. Almost everything I know about business – and of course I’m still learning – I learned from him. But I believe this is a time, right now, where Mr. Jones could learn some things, too. To learn about the culture.Dez Bryant
Bryant said with respect to Stephen Jones, he’s seen other team executives take a more active approach and it’s something the Cowboys should at least consider. “I’ve seen some of the other coaches and GMs from other teams start to reach out, and even march. I think that will help those teams in the locker room and on the field—for players to know that the boss is at least trying to understand.”
Bryant said he’s tried to understand the Jones’ family background, and he thinks now is an opportunity for them to reciprocate and the results might have a surprisingly positive effect.
“If Jerry did that, those guys in that locker room at The Star—knowing what he might be changing and might be sacrificing—would run through a brick wall for him. Jerry does that, he might just win another Super Bowl because of it.”
Making the world a better place while creating better team chemistry that could result in improved product on the field sounds like a winning scenario for all involved.