Friday, May 7, 2010

Calling Bullshit On The Dez Bryant Story Explanation

I kept telling myself I wouldn't post about this subject but it kept bothering me.

I kept hoping someone else would make the points I would have made but it never happened or at least I never saw it.

So after more than a week of putting it off here is my take on the Dez Bryant/Jeff Ireland story.
The leaked Dolphin's story about how the conversation went was bullshit.

The End.

Oh wait, you were expecting more than that?

Ok well lets take it from the top.

The story starts about a week before the draft when Michael Silver writes a story about Dez Bryant. The story is supposed to be about how people have the wrong impression about Bryant since he was suspended for lying about a lunch he had at Deion Sanders' house and because of his rough upbringing. But somewhere along the way Bryant gave a glimpse into how crazy things had gotten for him through the draft evaluation process.

The media criticism has been frustrating, but some of the probing from prospective employers has been downright offensive to Bryant. During one visit, the receiver sat in the office of a franchise’s high-level executive and was asked a shocking question.

“They asked me if my mom’s a prostitute,” Bryant says, an account that was confirmed by Wells, who attended the meeting. “No, my mom is not a prostitute. I got mad – really mad – but I didn’t show it. I got a lot of questions like that: Does she still do drugs? I sat and answered all of them.”

At the time that I read this article I immediately said to myself and others that there is no way to justify asking a man if his mom is a prostitute.

I still stand by that.

See its a nice clinical and sterilized way of saying it when you say "Is your Mom a prostitute" but the translation is still the same. "Did your Mom fuck for money?"

Try asking a random person either of those questions today and see where that gets you.

I can't speak for everyone but for me and the people I grew up with and hang with to this day there are certain lines you don't cross. And this isn't about being "gangsta" or "hood". One of my best friends is a Vice President at a bank but if you say something disrespectful about his mother he's going to lay hands on you and I am no different. It is what it is.

Now maybe the story ends right there if Silver never posts a follow up item on the situation. After all not that many people were up in arms after the initial column so my bet is that it would have blown over.

But he did and it didn't.

Here is how Silver "outed" the unnamed executive who asked Bryant if his mother was a prostitute:

Last Wednesday, the night before he was selected 24th overall by the Cowboys, former Oklahoma State wide receiver Dez Bryant(notes) told me that during one of his predraft visits, a high-level executive of one NFL franchise had asked him if his mother, Angela, was a prostitute.

“No, my mom is not a prostitute,” said Bryant, whose background – including his mother’s lifestyle and past legal troubles – was under great scrutiny prior to the draft. “I got mad – really mad – but I didn’t show it.”

The offender was Ireland, who on Monday declined to comment on the matter. Harvey Greene, the Dolphins’ senior vice president of media relations, said, “It’s our organizational policy that we don’t discuss publicly the process we use to evaluate potential draft choices.”

That’s a wise idea given the demeaning, offensive and possibly actionable evaluation process that was used to assess Bryant’s fitness to catch passes for Miami, a franchise which apparently holds nothing sacred in such contexts.

Pretty strong words from Silver there. But to emphasize a point it was SILVER who wrote this followup of his own volition and it was his words not Bryant's in this column calling out Jeff Ireland of the Miami Dolphins. For all I know Dez Bryant may have used a lot stronger words to describe Ireland, Lord knows I probably would have. But whether he would have or not is moot because he didn't, Silver did.

The firestorm after this revelation was righteous. And by righteous I mean it was of great magnitude AND it was warranted. There are just some things that are out of bounds and asking if a guy's Mom is a ho is pretty close to the top of that list.

Ireland, for his part, obviously recognized he was wrong. How do I know this? Because he called Dez Bryant and apologized. That's what guilty people do last time I checked. And so ends the story...

Not quite.

You see power tends to back power and when it comes to professional sports one entity of power are the team owners and their front offices. Another entity of power is the media. And man do they work hand in hand at times.

It was sickening for me to watch several ESPN pundits on TV and many talk radio hosts stretch the limits of common sense looking for any excuse under the sun whereby asking this guy if his mom was turning tricks was kosher. Oh they would always start their trips down fantasy lane "condemning" the question but ultimately they were still trying to justify it.

So two prominent excuses came to the forefront. One was that Ireland was playing pop psychologist and wanted to see a "reaction". The other was that he was asking because some how some way if Bryant's mother was getting paid to screw random dudes that was going to affect him playing football and seeing as how they were going to pay him a lot of money they had a "right" to know beforehand.

But remember, these excuses are all being formulated AFTER Ireland had already apologized.

I won't even address the later excuse because its bullshit. As for the "reaction" excuse, my question will always be what would be the "correct" reaction to somebody asking you that question? Football is a violent game and while many stupid people kept trying to make this about whether or not Dez Bryant would get a personal foul called because he hit somebody on the field about his Mom, nothing would probably be further from the truth. I played 7 years in the NFL and while I don't claim to know everything about everything, I can tell you that in those 7 years I never, not once, heard a guy on a football field say something about someone's Mom.

Wanna know why?

Because football or no football most of the guys you see flying around on Sunday will go apeshit if you talk about their Mom no matter what the circumstance. Maybe it won't be a personal foul and maybe it won't be a full fledged fight but at some point the offender is going to pay for that kind of disrespect. There are lines that simply don't get crossed as I said before, and that's one of them. Even on the football field.

And besides that, what kind of dispassionate robot is it that GMs could possibly want that if you talk about there Mom they won't show any emotion? I can tell you this much, if a guy doesn't get pissed and emotional when someone calls his mother a slut I don't really want that guy on my team.

But I digress.

The story still couldn't have ended right then and there but there were some apologists who just wouldn't be dissuaded. Specifically Marcellus Wiley took to the airwaves almost all day one day last week to defend Ireland by way of invoking Bill Parcells. In the newest of excuses for asking Dez Bryant if his Mom was a street walker incredibly Wiley proffered that maybe they were asking, brace yourself, for his own good.


See because Bill Parcells has been on an anti drug crusade since Lawrence Taylor almost wrecked his life, evidently Jeff Ireland had just taken the baton and went a little further to make sure none of the guys were going to be plagued with having whores for mothers.

Or some such.

Interestingly enough over the course of the day and on several different shows his argument evolved until that evening he took to twitter almost bursting with excitement. You see he knew something we didn't know and when we found out WOOOO WEEEE we were all going to be floored by how smart he was and how dumb we were to be outraged.

Or some such.

This great "secret" was revealed so to speak the next day by a Sports Illustrated writer:

Two sources familiar with the situation contend that Ireland's question was nothing more than the logical follow-up to comments Bryant had made about his family. According to the sources, Ireland began the meeting by asking Bryant, 21, about his upbringing and his relationship with his siblings. Then he asked what Bryant's father did for a living when Bryant was growing up. The following exchange allegedly ensued:

"My dad was a pimp."

"What did your mom do [for a living]?"

"She worked for my dad."

"Your mom was a prostitute?"

"No, she wasn't a prostitute."

Well that explains it!

Wait, what?

There are two problems with this passage which I will get to in a minute but I want to address something else first. This "story" spread around the sports pundit world like wildfire and the reaction was both disappointing and amazing. The general response was "Oh well now that you put it that way.." As if this "context" made all the sense in the world. I can't count how many times different pundits used the phrase "he opened the door" when discussing this alleged conversation after this was leaked.

Really? Now its Dez Bryant's fault that Jeff Ireland asked if his Mom was a prostitute.

I had private conversations with a few journalists that still weren't buying the bullshit but they seemed to be drowned out by the rest. Power had spoken and power said Ireland was off the hook.

Well wait just a got damned minute.

Its funny because Marcellus Wiley kept asserting that nobody was using "critical thinking" when looking at this situation but it appears that that charge is more applicable to himself and the media.

Lets go back to the leaked story. First of all nobody put their name on it. Don't you think that's odd? I mean this is a huge story and the unnamed sources contend that Bryant is lying or at least not telling the "full context" of what happened. Why should we rely on unnamed sources instead of having Jeff Ireland come out and speak on the record about it? Something he only did when he acknowledged that he called Dez Bryant to apologize. Evidently he was apologizing to Bryant because Bryant made him ask such an inappropriate question.

Mind you Bryant came out on the record and in front of cameras and said the story was a lie. Oh wait, see nobody can believe anything Dez Bryant says because after all he DID lie to the NCAA which led to his suspension.

At least that's how the media framed this discrepancy. See unnamed sources and GMs who I am sure lied to the media for weeks about who they would be targeting in the draft, as well as lying on a regular basis about injury reports and whether a coach will be fired or not, those are the credible people. The guy who we know lied once because he was scared he would lose his eligibility (which ultimately happened anyway)he's the "bad" guy not to be believed. Its worth noting however that Bryant himself spoke on his mother openly and honestly before the draft to Jean-Jaques Taylor. But hey why let facts get in the way, right?

Ok but what about the "context"? Or rather what happened next?

Here is the question that I have been waiting on somebody to ask but I haven't seen it so far. If we are to believe that this really was the way the conversation went then how did it end?

Putting aside for a moment the fact that the context doesn't line up neatly in any of the boxes the people trying to make excuses for Ireland had constructed, even if he was just being nosey or just tactless, there's a line missing there. Lets recap it again.

Dez Bryant says his Dad is a pimp and his Mom works for him. Jeff Ireland asks if she was a prostitute. Bryant says no.

And that's it? Really? They just move on to whether Bryant prefers dogs or cats?


Try to have that conversation with a friend of yours. Then try your best NOT to apologize for asking that question. Its frikkin impossible.

Even if you "accidentally" ask somebody if their Mom is a ho, once they say no she's not then the apologies come flowing. "Oh man I didn't mean anything by it, I just thought, well you know". Or something close to that at least. What kind of guy asks somebody if their Mom is a prostitute, hears a guy say no, and then shrugs it off and keeps it moving?

And how do we know Ireland didn't apologize at that time? Well if he had I probably wouldn't be writing this long ass post right now because it would have been squashed and Ireland wouldn't have needed to apologize a second time.

Which brings me back to my initial thought on the matter. There simply isn't a context where asking a guy if his Mom is a prostitute is acceptable. At least not one where you don't either lose some teeth or apologize, one of the two if not both.

Now at this point I could go into how doubly wrong it is for someone in Ireland's position to ask that question of a potential draftee who is an obvious position of weakness but I think that aspect has been talked about already. Instead I want to focus on how wrong it is for the media to become the mouth piece for Ireland and the Miami Dolphins.

How is it that these various outlets going strictly off of unnamed sources declared the issue closed even though the Dolphins wouldn't confirm the account, and especially when Dez Bryant disputed those sources on the record? How is it that you had so many arguments from sports pundits that sounded almost exactly identical in trying to cover for Ireland? How is it that just as soon as Dez's mother spoke out and said she wanted an apology as well the media started taking shots at her and digging into her criminal history?
Have you no shame?!

There is something perilously wrong when the media is so concerned with keeping access or in some situations just too dumb to realize they are being used, that they start fighting for power instead of standing up to it. And really that's my primary motivation for writing this post. There is no way a rational person can stand back from this situation and come up with a justification for Jeff Ireland asking Dez Bryant if his mother was or is a whore. You just can't. But after more than a week that's exactly what many in sports media have done.

And I for one am appalled.


  1. Great well thought out post.

  2. I wonder if fools are told what opinion to take based on the direction
    the brass wants the story to spin. After all is said and done I'm glad
    Bryant handled it the way he did and you can't help but pull for him
    to be more productive than dolphin wideouts and successful overall.

  3. You nailed it. There's nothing else I need to add. Great post.

  4. I can not imagine under any circumstances where it would be appropriate to ask that question. Everyone's Mom is perfect in their own eyes, regardless of who they are or what they do for the most part. So whether a woman is a Streetwalker or not, you should never approach the subject with their child. Prostitution is the oldest profession for women, and it is somewhat an honest living, where a service is provided for a fair price. Now you could take a woman that is a Politician that practices bribery, graft and extortion, or a Media Pundit that disregards the truth and takes quotes out of context or spins things to suit her own views. These two women, whether on the left or right, are far worse than all of the prostitutes gathered together. Still the question should never have been asked under any context, but there are far worse professions than being a prostitute. I wonder what Ireland's wife does, or who she does. I bet she hates him, and I bet this story made Jeff's Mom proud. Not.

  5. I think this is a good article. One of my problems with the media is that they tend to back each other up regardless of the average persons morals and ethics. For example - I know Mike Gundy's rant was stupid - he had too much caffeine and came off out of control - but one columnist to the next backed him up without good reason. Meanwhile if you read individual posts from fans they backed him up to such a huge degree it became obvious that the average college football fan saw where he was coming from. Don't get me wrong - he better have learned from that - it was a mistake on both side. My point is that the media just back each other up without good reasoning.