NFL rookies are often required to carry veterans’ pads as a sort of training camp hazing ritual. But Cowboys rookie Dez Bryant wants no part of it.
Tim MacMahon of ESPNDallas.com reports that Roy Williams gave his pads to Bryant today, and Bryant refused to carry them.
“I’m not doing it,” Bryant said. “I feel like I was drafted to play football, not carry another player’s pads.”
Bryant says this isn’t a case of a first-round pick thinking he’s above an NFL tradition. Instead, it’s about a player who says he won’t tolerate being treated badly.
“If I was a free agent, it would still be the same thing,” Bryant said. “I just feel like I’m here to play football. I’m here to try to help win a championship, not carry someone’s pads. I’m saying that out of no disrespect to [anyone].”
But Williams says Bryant was wrong to refuse his request.
“Everybody has to go through it,” Williams said. “I had to go through it. No matter if you’re a No. 1 pick or the 7,000th pick, you’ve still got to do something when you’re a rookie. I carried pads. I paid for dinners. I paid for lunches. I did everything I was supposed to do, because I didn’t want to be that guy.”
Although the Cowboys’ decision to draft Bryant was widely viewed as a sign that the team is less than thrilled with Williams’ performance, both Bryant and Williams have steadfastly insisted that there’s no bad blood between them. That stance of unity between Bryant and Williams lasted through all of two days of training camp.
UPDATE: After seeing this item, Chargers linebacker Shawne Merriman weighed in on Twitter about what Williams’ next step should be.