SAN JOSE - Dallas Cowboys receiver Dez Bryant is putting ESPN and reporter Adam Schefter on blast after a weekend report that suggests Bryant is so "irresponsible" that he may have missed 40 meetings during his time with the team.
"When I heard that," Bryant said to me in a lengthy one-on-one interview following Sunday's 24-17 Cowboys win at San Francisco, "I was like, 'C'mon, what are you taking about? When I first got here? ... I mean, '40 meetings'?
"Certain people in the media want to make me look bad. 'We've got to find something to make him look horrible.'
"It's total (BS). ... it's like I'm 'America's Most Hated.'"
Bryant didn't play in Sunday's 24-17 win at San Francisco due to a knee injury that he feared at the start of the week was so severe that, out of frustration, he missed a handful of appointments and meetings.
"I did the wrong thing, and I accepted my punishment (from the team) like a man," he said. (See extensive coverage of Dez' week, featuring more 1-on-1's with him, here.) "This was a poor-ass decision. And I've had my issues before ... But) I'm talking (about the charge of rampant absenteeism) in general. No. that's not true. ... I give my life to this. I give my heart to this. This is my everything.
"I know these younger guys look at me. I like to come to work just because of them. My teammates love me, and I love them. We have fun each and every day. That's what we do."
But Bryant does not consider it "fun" to be -- in his view -- targeted this way by media members who do not know or understand him. He made a point to me to note his difficult upbringing and what he's overcome to become an NFL star. It still bothers him that some critics thought the seven-year vet and two-time Pro Bowler would "wash out of the league in three years" and it still bothers him that Schefter is among the media members who insisted in 2014 that there was a violent Wal-Mart parking lot video featuring Bryant.
Schefter actually said "yeah'' when asked if he knew what was shown on the video, a follow-up to Mike Florio triggering the controversy in February 2015 by irresponsibly telling "Shan & RJ'' on 105.3 The Fan that it was "five times worse'' than the horrific Ray Rice video. Here at CowboysHQ.com it came to be known as "The Dez Wal-Mart Unicorn Video" because of the mythically unproven tales about it.
Schefter (who we have attempted to reach for comment) is similarly cloudy in this report already being labeled the "40 missed meetings" story. Schefter seemingly mashes together every time in the last seven years Bryant has missed a team meeting, missed an appointment (such as the MRI he skipped last week) and maybe missed any other scheduled event, while also counting (with the same weight) any time Bryant has allegedly been in attendance but tardy for a meeting, an appointment and an event. The accusation is further muddled by Schefter suggesting that it might be 40 slip-ups ... or an alleged "20 to 40" such occurrences.
Bryant, always brutally honest in my dealings with him, denies everything about this volume of numbers. He denies the general allegations. And while Cowboys owner Jerry Jones last night noted that Dez "is a team player ... enough to give him the (five-year, $70-million) contract I gave him'' while conceding that "since the beginning of time, meetings and the timeliness of his meetings have been his No. 1 issues," Bryant does not think what I call "Dez Time" is a headline-worthy issue.
"I'm going to stay being true and I'm going to stay being me," Bryant told me. "I give my whole heart to this team. I refuse to let any of the noise really get into my brain. To me, it's just bullshit."