Dez Bryant’s Mischievous Reputation Is A Little Exaggerated

Reality is perception. On Tuesday, NFL Networks' Jamie Dukes discussed the reality of Cowboys receiver Dez Bryant. During his first three years in the league, he's had his fair share of minor run-ins with the law. Nothing too serious, but under the Dallas Cowboys spotlight, his actions have been amplified and have made him an easy target for more than just Tony Romo.

While critiquing Bryant, whom he revealed was third on his "Top five receivers under 25" list , Dukes compared Bryant to ex-Eagles and Vikings receiver Cris Carter, but made a strange assertion.

Via Dallas Morning News:

"He is No. 3 on my list because this guy is a great football player," Dukes said. "He’s big, he’s strong, he’s country strong – that’s basically the best way you can characterize what he’s able to do. He reminds me of Cris Carter with his hands, those mitts. That’s why he only needed four fingers when he hurt one of his fingers last year."

"No, you can't cure that. Knucklehead-itis stems from life, it has nothing to do with things that happen on the field," Dukes said.

This one's a little bit of a head-scratcher, because he leads with the comparison to Carter but then claims that he doesn't believe Bryant can stay out of trouble. Carter was the epitome of knucklehead-itis. Bryant's endured some peaks and valleys in his career, but he's never been the triple threat of troublemaking that Cris Carter was before he was cut by the Philadelphia Eagles. Carter, who'll be inducted into Canton this August, credits that shallow point in his career as the moment his life turned around. Dukes should know better. He was in the league while Carter was rectifying his life and career.

Bryant's been a model citizen since a dustup involving his mom last spring, but his career-low pales in comparison to Carter's. In the aftermath, Bryant finally leapt into an elite class of receivers during his transformative third season. At Michael Jordan's birthday party during the NBA's All-Star Weekend in February, Jordan had one word of advice for Bryant: behave. He's done just that.

You don't have to engage in hyperbole to recognize that Bryant is on his way to following in Carter's hallowed footsteps and playing a long career that will overshadow his early troubles.