Turbulent Personality Makes Antonio Bryant’s Stay In Dallas A Short One
(A year-by-year look at one draft pick the 21st Century Dallas Cowboys would love to throw back)
2002: Antonio Bryant (2nd-round, 63rd overall)
The Dallas Cowboys were a desperate franchise going into the 2002 NFL Draft. And, as we all know, desperate teams sometimes do desperate things.
After two consecutive 5-11 seasons, eagle-eye scout Jerry Jones was on the lookout for any talent, all talent, and even combustible talent.
Any and All arrived in the form of Oklahoma safety Roy Williams (8th overall) and Colorado guard Andre Gurode (37th overall). With the 63rd selection, Jones found the box of explosives he had been looking for, and latched onto it for better or worse.
In the case of Antonio Bryant, Jones will never be accused of drafting an ungainly football player. He has, however, been forced to deal with the reality that he could have chosen a better one.
Talent was never an issue with Bryant during his two-plus seasons in Dallas, nor was production. A 2nd-round selection from Pitt, it was Bryant, as the team’s No. 2 receiver behind Joey Galloway, who came within two receptions of tying Bob Hayes’ rookie record. He caught a game-winning touchdown pass on fourth-down to beat Carolina in Week 6, and then had 170 receiving yards against Washington to end his rookie campaign.
While his numbers actually dipped slightly in 2003, his performance was more consistent under the watchful eye of Bill Parcells, as Bryant learned the value of being not only a flashy wideout, but a reliable one. His sideline catch at the end of regulation which enabled Dallas to beat the Giants in Week 2 will forever be a part of Cowboy lore.
But for all the good he did on the field, Bryant was, at times, uncontrollable off it. He complained on the sidelines when he didn’t get the ball, often demonstratively advising coaches what plays to call, and once even did a back-flip on the sidelines after a tantrum in Indianapolis.
His undoing became a reality on the practice field in June of 2004. Irritated at not having a pass thrown in his direction, Bryant removed his jersey and gave it to Parcells, who tossed it back to him during a heated exchange. It was then that Bryant chunked the jersey into Parcells’ face, resulting in an altercation in which players saw fit to intervene.
Bryant was shipped to Cleveland later the following October in exchange for underwhelming receiver Quincy Morgan, a trade the Cowboys were more than happy with when considering the turbulent personality they no longer had to deal with.