There was already a pretty high standard for receivers wearing the number 88 with the Cowboys.
But the guy who made it to the Hall of Fame wearing that number thinks the new version is even better.
Michael Irvin said he’s impressed by the job Dez Bryant has done so far, but sees only bigger things for the guy wearing his old number, and doesn’t know if he’s ever seen a better physical talent.
“Not many. Not many in my whole life, period,” Irvin said, via Tim McMahon of ESPNDallas.com. “I ain’t talking about now, I’m talking about in my whole life that had that physical gift, that ability that he has to go up and catch any pass. He can catch any pass. The ability to run by people, the ability to catch a short ball and run around you, through you, however he needs to get there – he has that ability.
“He has the ability that when you see him, you go back in your prayer closet and you go, ‘God, why didn’t you give me that?’ Because I’ve said that: ‘God, if only you’d have given me that. Are you serious?’”
The always humble Irvin was then asked if he thought Bryant was more talented than he was.
“What do you mean?” Irvin replied. “I look at him and say, that’s what I used to pray for. I used to pray for that! I used to pray, ‘Why didn’t you give me this?’ Absolutely!
“What I was great at we can teach. We can teach thinking through the game, consistent route running. We can teach [that]. What he has, you can only hope and pray that God has blessed you with it. That’s the difference.”
Of course, that’s only half the battle for Bryant, who has also had to get through a troubled off-field life. But Irvin said that made Bryant’s progress more impressive.
“I like to measure men in distance traveled,” Irvin said. “When you look at where Dez came from – I’m talking about his upbringing – the story becomes a good story, an inspirational story to tell other young kids that are starting in a tough place. Just because you start here doesn’t mean you have to end here.
“Then you point to some people who have had some struggles, like a Dez Bryant, but came through on the other end to give that kid hope. That’s why it’s important.”
All the returns on Bryant this camp have been good, and he gives the Cowboys offense a chance to be special (assuming the play-calling isn’t an issue).
And the fact Irvin is so impressed with Bryant speaks volumes about what could be ahead of him.