The uniform number 88 is sacred in the world of the Dallas Cowboys -- it was worn by both Drew Pearson and Michael Irvin in their Super Bowl-winning careers as wide receivers for "America's Team."
When the Cowboys drafted Dez Bryant in the first round of the 2010 draft, they gave him 88 as a sign of the promise they saw in him and expectations they have for him. But one Cowboys watcher said instead of following in the hallowed footsteps of Pearson and Irvin, Bryant is "dangerously close" to becoming a more recent disappointing 88 -- Antonio Bryant (no relation).
And that is a load of nonsense.
While admitting that Dez Bryant's ability is "undeniably awesome," Tim MacMahon, who covers the Cowboys for ESPNDallas.com, writes:
But the frustrating moments-to-flashes of brilliance ratio is high enough to question whether Dez Bryant will have a bright future or fail to fulfill all of that potential.
MacMahon writes that Antonio Bryant came to Dallas with similar potential, and that they both fell in their respective drafts because of alleged character issues. Antonio Bryant started 15 games as a rookie in 2002, catching 44 passes. He regressed some the following year, catching 39 passes in just five starts. Then in 2004 he decided it would be a good idea to throw a towel in the face of head coach Bill Parcells. Parcells swiftly banished him to Cleveland.
Dez Bryant has not thrown any towels at his bosses, but MacMahon points out that "he is guilty of chronic immaturity and irresponsibility."
He racked up six figures worth of fines for being late to meetings and rehab sessions as a rookie, an issue he has improved but not eliminated this season. There was the well-publicized, silly run-in over sagging pants with off-duty police working as security at an upscale mall. He still hasn't settled one of his two six-figure debts for jewelry and tickets acquired before the draft. And on and on and on.
MacMahon said Bryant is also immature on the field and that there is a lack of trust between him and quarterback Tony Romo.
All of this might be true, but the comparisons between the Bryants is a bit severe and premature. Dez Bryant is sensational and is one of the most electric players on the field. I don't remember Antonio Bryant being all that exciting.
Dez Bryant's main problem has been injuries. He played in only 12 games in his rookie year in 2010, catching 45 passes, and has already missed a game this season.
Dez Bryant is only 23 years old. If he remains healthy, he will be one of the top wide receivers in the game, not to mention a top return man (he returned two punts for touchdowns last season). He will stand alongside his fellow 88s Pearson and Irvin, and there will be no comparisons to that other 88 with the same name.