I like Dez Bryant's mother. I've never met her, but I like her for one simple reason.
Sometimes I judge people by the people who judge them.
|Dez Bryant's mom deserves at least a hug for being thrown into the NFL's publicity tank unwillingly. (AP)|
Apparently, Bryant, the wide receiver drafted by the Dallas Cowboys after the Miami Dolphins gratuitously insulted his mother to his face, is really getting the business from the NFL and its moral guardians. That and 67 catches for 911 yards and five touchdowns will get you 67 catches for 911 yards and five touchdowns.
But now that the Dolphins made Bryant's mother's sexual character an issue, a small army of other folks are pointing out now that she has sold cocaine within the past year.
OK, that's not good. But apparently this is news because we now know she isn't a prostitute, which means ... wait, what?
But let's move past the idea that Bryant's mother has had an unwieldy past, which really isn't a direct link to whether or not her son can make Tony Romo a better quarterback, because that seems fairly obvious. Ask the question that comes two steps down the line, namely this:
If the NFL gets the rookie salary cap it wants from the next collective bargaining agreement, does it mean the league and its legion of defenders can no longer use the excuse that the questions are legitimate because of the money they are risking when they draft a player?
Put another way, how much money do you have to pay before you can ask someone if their mother is a whore? $4 million? $6 million? $9 million?
Then let's ask the next question. Is Dez Bryant's mother the first player's parent with a dodgy past? After we stop laughing, let's ask what year the NFL started caring about mothers -- 2008? 2005? 1961?
And finally, let's ask this one. Is Roger Goodell going to punish a management figure? Ever? For anything?
Let's answer them in reverse order. No, because he works for the teams that do the hiring that lead to "Is your mom a prostitute?" as reasonable inquiry because they're paying Goodell the same jack they're paying Dez Bryant. Does anyone wonder if any owner thought to ask Goodell when he was being vetted for the job if his mo ... no, let's not go there, because it's no more proper than it was for Jeff Ireland.
But I'll say this: Roger Goodell has been given a more important job than Dez Bryant, and he'll make more money in his career than Dez Bryant will ever dream of having. If it's about money, well, you know.
Next, no, because players with parents with dodgy pasts have been drafted since time immemorial. The ones who can play are heralded for overcoming adversity. The ones who can't are ignored and then forgotten, because football isn't about character or the character of the parents and never has been. It's about football, period, in all its cold, egalitarian, Darwinian, exploitative ways. You want morality, be moral yourselves. Otherwise, shut up.
Next, we'll know how much you have to pay to call someone's mom a whore when Bryant signs, because it'll be a dollar less than the guaranteed money he gets. I don't believe under the current collective bargaining agreement that slandering a parent covers bonuses or incentives, though that might be a sticking point in the upcoming negotiations.
In the uncapped year, of course, you can go after a player's crippled grandmother without ramifications. But we digress, when we should return to the top of the column, and why I like Dez Bryant's mom. It's because anyone who gets tossed into the NFL's morality and publicity shredders and isn't getting paid by the NFL deserves something from someone.
I tried for awhile to mentally create a scenario in which Ireland was trying to get Bryant to react to the kind of abuse he might hear from another player, just playing devil's advocate, and it came close to working for awhile.
Then the defense of the Dolphins and the chase to examine Bryant's mother more carefully kicked in, and I realized that any justification unleashed forces that should never be freed. You can't defend some things, for no better reason than the fact that being associated with some of the other defenders will just give you the kind of creeps you can never shake.
Ray Ratto is a columnist for the San Francisco Chronicle.