Dez Bryant admitted he made a “poor decision” in skipping a scheduled magnet resonance imaging exam for two consecutive days earlier this week, fearing bad news on his knee.
But he declared himself “day-to-day” with a hairline fracture in his right knee in a series of social media posts.
Bryant declined interview requests by reporters on Thursday, but took to his Twitter account (@DezBryant) to express remorse for a situation that has spiraled out of control.
“I made a poor decision based on how I felt about my knee,” Bryant wrote. “[Coach Jason Garrett] addressed it to me and I understood the consequences….”
Bryant has not practiced this week, and seems unlikely to play at San Francisco on Sunday. But he called himself “day-to-day” and the Cowboys have yet to rule him out.
A source told the Star-Telegram earlier in the week that Bryant could miss up to three weeks with the injury.
This situation has left several scratching their head and put Garrett in uncomfortable spots during news conferences on Monday and Wednesday.
Garrett finally opened up on the subject Thursday, confirming that Bryant had missed treatment and an MRI exam on Monday; a team meeting and another MRI exam on Tuesday; and a team meeting on Wednesday as he underwent a delayed MRI exam.
Garrett had a blank stare when asked why he couldn’t share that information on Wednesday, and repeatedly pointed to Bryant’s “passion” as the reason for him no-showing the MRI exams.
Garrett went as far as saying Bryant missing the exams “was completely well intended.”
But Garrett is also a coach who introduced a new mantra of “17 inches” – the size of baseball’s home plate – during training camp as a way to hold every player to the same standards.
“The situation with Dez is an interesting one, is a challenging one,” Garrett said. “After the game on Sunday night, he got some information about his knee and he suspected that it was a serious injury. He’s a very passionate guy, as we’ve talked about, and he really thought that he was going to get some bad news when he got the MRI on Monday.
“So, like some of us do in life at times, he avoided it. He didn’t come in and take care of his business on Monday or Tuesday. Came in on Wednesday and took care of that part of it.”
Garrett spent the early part of his news conference being peppered with questions about the situation, at one time saying he wouldn’t answer any more questions on the subject. Garrett seemed to agree that every player on the Cowboys has “passion,” and that shouldn’t justify Bryant’s absence from the MRI exam.
Garrett said there were “consequences” for Bryant, who has been fined by the team for missing meetings.
“He’s an emotional person and he didn’t handle it the right way,” Garrett said. “What we have to do as a team is we have to handle it the right way. We understand where he was coming from and then we address it, we solve it and we move on. That’s how we handle things here.”
The rest of the locker room and coaching staff seemed ready to move on from Bryant’s drama, as well. Offensive coordinator Scott Linehan said he felt good about the receivers who would have to step up in Bryant’s place, including Brice Butler but he also hasn’t ruled out Bryant for Sunday.
Tight end Jason Witten agreed, and feels this team is better equipped to handle Bryant’s absence than they did a season ago when he missed seven games.
And Witten found his inner Jerry Jones in describing the entire Bryant situation. He, like several players, felt too much was being made of it all.
“Look, we all go through different things,” Witten said. “That’s handled within teams. Guys address it and move forward. It happens every week in the NFL from that standpoint. So, yeah, you always work together and talking and that’s what teammates are, they’re brothers. There’s a great saying inside this building by somebody I tremendously respect – let’s not circumcise a mosquito here, you know? I think that has great value in this.
“As things go on, move forward and we all understand that. This game means so much to Dez Bryant and that’s a relationship that I’ve really enjoyed over the years in seeing that and the brotherhood that you have with that. Dez will be back out there in no time.”