In a live interview with NFL Network’s Jason La Canfora, NFL Network’s Deion Sanders talked about recent controversies involving himself and Oklahoma State receiver Dez Bryant and 49ers receiver Michael Crabtree.
On NFL Network.
It was fitting that the television operation for which Sanders works aired the segment, since Deion first stepped into the fray on NFLN during a Friday night Total Access visit with Rich Eisen, during which Deion talked openly about other teams’ interest in Crabtree.
But this post is about the Dez Bryant portion of the interview. (We’ll address the Crabtree content in a separate posting.)
Bryant lost his eligibility this week after lying to the NCAA about his involvement with Sanders. The questions presumably were being asked due to suspicions that violations of NCAA rules had occurred. In settings such as this, violations occur most often when the player receives money or something of value.
In many cases, the money or things of value are provided by someone who wants to represent the player at the next level, either as to his football contract or for his marketing deals. (E.g., Reggie Bush.) In this case, a league source tells us that it’s believed an agent who failed in his effort to secure Bryant as a client blew the whistle on Bryant and Sanders.
So when Bryant was questioned, he “panicked” (as Deion has described it), and Bryant denied going to Sanders’ house.
Many league insiders think it was odd that Bryant panicked. If, as Deion claims, he has been serving as only a mentor for Bryant and a liaison of sorts between the player and his position coach, why would the kid panic over simple questions regarding whether he has been to Deion’s house?
And so it has caused some to wonder whether Bryant was trying to cover up something more. Indeed, La Canfora asked Deion point blank whether he has supplied Bryant or his girlfriend with cell phones. That’s the kind of mentoring that could wipe out Bryant’s eligibility not temporarily, but permanently.
Deion, who seems to sense that the NCAA is interested in more than whether he fed Bryant a meal or shot hoops with him, admits to having contact with Bryant but insists, “If I was a liar my story would have collaborated with his.”
In other words, Deion is saying that, if he were inclined to cover up the possibility that he has given Bryant things of value, Deion merely would have said, “Dez is right. He has never been to my house.”
But Deion isn’t stupid. Surely, he realizes that the NCAA would have been able to prove in relatively short order that they both were lying.
So it’s possible that Deion has staked out a middle ground, admitting to certain things that don’t violate NCAA regulations and denying anything that would. The “I don’t lie” nonsense — words that even the best of liars can utter convincingly — strikes us potentially as an easy effort to kick dirt on the tracks.
His general position was that he provides these kids with mentoring and guidance, but nothing else. At one point, however, Deion suggested that he might give them “clothing” or a “bicycle,” which if the recipient is an NCAA athlete could be a violation of the rules.
And so further investigation by the NCAA seems to be required here. It would be unwise to accept Deion’s self-serving responses at face value (indeed, every person who has ever been sent to prison is innocent — just ask them).
Deion likely thinks that his decision to go on the record has put the matter to bed. There’s a chance, however, that he has instead given legs to a story that won’t go away.
Bottom line? The NCAA doesn’t like to be lied to. Dez Bryant already has learned that lesson.
The question is whether the NCAA will now be motivated to determine whether the man who says he never lies might have violated his own motto as it relates to whether anything of value has been given to Bryant.
If Deion never lies, then he should have nothing to hide. Thus, he should be fully cooperate with the NCAA, giving them any information or documents or other evidence they request.