Actual headline from actual newspaper: "Dez Bryant Refuses To Carry Roy Williams' Shoulder Pads." So while this may not be a big story, the media's damn sure they're going to make it one. So let's analyze!
By now you've heard the story: despite a training camp tradition of rookies carrying the vets' pads after practice, Dez Bryant refused to do it for Roy Williams. This is important, they tell us, because Bryant is gunning for Williams's job, because it's an affront to generations of NFL tradition, and because anything that happens on the Cowboys is international news.
I'm not doing it," Bryant said. "I feel like I was drafted to play football, not carry another player's pads."
So far, pundits have come down on opposing sides. A vast majority of commenters are blaming Williams, seemingly convinced that this is a special punishment he concocted just for Bryant, instead of being something players have done for decades.
glad Dez is standing up to even this relatively minor spate of hazing," says one commenter on the Star-Telegram story. "If, as Williams seemingly is threatening, it escalates to phase two with the theft of a credit card... that, in my mind, boils down to a felony. Cowboys fan or not, I'd vote for an indictment if that case came to a grand jury I found myself sitting upon. If these millionaires are truly professionals, then there is no hazing that is necessary or even harmless."
Got that? Threats and harassment. A felony. Okay.
But most columnists, at this early date, are blaming Bryant. He's flat out wrong, says the Dallas Morning News. "Sounds like the signs of a locker room cancer," writes a columnist at the Orlando Sentinel. So while Dez Bryant has yet to even step foot in the locker room at Cowboys Stadium, apparently he's already metastasized there.
Boundless speculation! We love it! So allow us to engage in a bit of our own, figuring out what's really going on here by analyzing Williams and Bryant with the foolproof DSM lingo we learned in freshman psych.
Williams is clearly suffering from a classic case of narcissistic personality disorder, though a certain form. He hews strongly to Milton's compensatory narcissism: beset by self-doubt over his skills and his ability to hold on to his number 2 receiver job, he's acting out by making himself seem important. Forcing Bryant to carry his pads is a manifestation of his own inadequacy compared to the rookie, and he is clinging desperately to his seniority, the one place he's got a leg up on Bryant.
Mark it down.
Bryant, on the other hand, has a paranoid personality disorder, compounded by hypochondriasis. He's seen all the reports about bullying that seem to dominate the news, and become convinced that he too is a victim. For Bryant, being told to carry the pads isn't a traditional form of rookie hazing; it's a concerted effort by teammates who are out to get him. His refusal is his way of standing up to the bullies, before it escalates into violence and psychological abuse.
Yup, no doubt about it.
So there you have it — the official Temple University psych department-educated, Deadspin-approved final analysis of Dez Bryant and Roy Williams's dispute. It's either exactly what I've described here, or it's no big deal and we shouldn't get all worked up over a little training camp news item.