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IRVING, Texas — With audio now available to back up Dez Bryant‘s claim that he was saying only positive things at Tony Romo in a sideline rant last weekend, the Dallas quarterback was ready to offer a passionate defense of his top receiver.
Romo took care of it without the arm-waving that landed the emotional Bryant in the headlines again.
“Does he need to sometimes maybe look a little different for what’s going to be written and talked about? Sure,” Romo said Thursday in the Cowboys’ locker room.
“Does it really matter in here? No. He’s a positive guy who loves his teammates. What else do you want? He’s passionate and he comes to work every day with a great attitude.
“I’d like a lot of teammates like that.”
Romo tried to warn the masses in the moments after a 31-30 loss to Detroit.
That’s because he knew the cameras would catch what was happening right in front of him — Bryant waving his arms wildly, walking away from the quarterback, turning around abruptly to yell a few more things while coach Jason Garrett made an effort to steer him in another direction.
And he knew Bryant wasn’t saying much.
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“We the best in the NFL on that!” Bryant yelled, slamming a fist into an open hand.
Told you so, said Romo.
“I’m like everyone’s going to go run with it because of the demonstrative hand movements,” Romo said.
“But it’s just not who Dez is. I said that after the game and kind of what happened was obvious what was going to happen, people were going to take it and run with it. Even though it’s wrong.”
There’s no audio of a heated exchange between Bryant and tight end Jason Witten after the Lions scored the winning touchdown with 12 seconds left, but the intent there was pretty clear — and later backed up by both players.
“You just got to find a way to get him the ball and he had two touchdowns last week,” Romo said. “That’s usually a pretty good game, but obviously the guy on the other side had a real good day. I think when the season’s over, you’ll find that Dez had a pretty good year and he did a lot of great things.”
Bryant was agitated by the sudden turn of events, and Witten was afraid his teammate wasn’t ready to go back on the field. Regardless of the hopelessness in those final seconds, Witten wanted Bryant ready for a couple more plays.
Witten had forgotten about the tiff almost as soon as he turned away from Bryant.
“I know he’s got a lot of respect for me, and I’ve honestly got a lot of respect for him,” Witten said. “It’s a close relationship, and really it’s a handful of guys. He wants to make Tony proud and know that he can throw it up to him in any of those situations. That’s what makes him such a great teammate. If it was just about him, it would be different.”
Bryant offered his defense Monday, a few hours before NFL Films released the audio that showed he was telling the truth.
Beyond clarifying what he said, Bryant reiterated the strength of his relationship with Romo and Witten and scoffed at the question of whether he had lost credibility in the locker room.
“Don’t think that I (don’t) know there’s not a million and one cameras out there on that field,” said Bryant, who is tied for the NFC lead with eight touchdowns heading into Sunday’s home game against Minnesota.
“You can’t worry about who’s watching, who’s paying attention. It’s all about motivating, trying to get guys’ minds right and things like that.”
Bryant’s gyrations are always news because commentators presume No. 1 receivers are always hollering for the ball. And since Bryant was targeted just six times against the Lions, it was easy to forget he had two touchdowns.
Garrett said Bryant is the “farthest thing” from a receiving diva.
“Somebody told me a long time ago that it took 13 guys to get Secretariat into the gates when he won by 33 lengths,” Garrett said. “What’s the lesson there? You know what I’m saying. You love the enthusiasm. You love all that. You’ve just got to channel it and get him in the gates and let him run.”
Information from The Associated Press and ESPN Cowboys reporter Todd Archer was used in this report.