It’s been said a hundred billion times that the NFL is a “star-driven league,” and playing for the Dallas Cowboys – a team whose emblem is literally a star – only increases the brightness. It takes a special sort to provide the necessary wattage, and fifth-year receiver Dez Bryant is both the athlete and personality that can sustain the energy necessary to do so.
Bryant is a “star” in the way that the sun is a star; big and bright, basically omnipresent. In Sunday’s win over the Saints, other Cowboys had statement games, but Bryant brought his career receiving total to 4,395 yards, more than the 4,364 yards that Michael Irvin – the franchise’s all-time leading receiver – had in his first five seasons.
It’s not the first time Bryant has been compared to the Playmaker; like Irvin, he wears number 88, and the two have the same magnetic personality, as evidenced by the throng of reporters surrounding his locker following the Cowboys’ 38-17 victory. Bryant had another touchdown catch in the game – Bryant and New Orleans tight end Jimmy Graham are tied for most receiving touchdowns since 2012, with 28 – and the press peppered him for quotes. Every time it seemed he had answered a question it would inevitably be asked again, though he always managed to answer it like it was the first of the night.
Not an easy task for most athletes, let alone one whose every word is parsed for additional meaning. So when Bryant saw the chance to talk about anything else, he snatched it like a Tony Romo TD pass. He took a few minutes from football to answer our questions, but only, as he put it, “because it’s Rolling Stone.”
For starters, there’s his take on music. His favorite rapper at the moment is Drake, though he was quick to add that the “all-time greatest” is still Jay Z. Knowing that Bryant isn’t afraid to speak his mind, I prodded a bit to see if he would weigh in on some of the genre’s lesser talents.
“Truthfully, I haven’t really paid attention,” he says. “I only pay attention to what I like. What I love. That’s Drake, Jay Z, I like Lil Wayne, Meek Mill.”
What about noted Seattle Seahawks supporter Macklemore?
“He’s good. He’s coming along.”
It’s at this point that Tony Romo walks by and taps Bryant as he’s going to the press area, and Bryant, apparently finished rating rappers, exclaims “Alright, Rainmaker!”
“That’s his new nickname, Rainmaker.”
Why is that?
“Because he makes it rain.”
The interview switches focus to the Dallas Cowboys and how this season is going to be different than previous ones, where the opportunities missed were usually a bigger story than anything positive. After a dominant performance against the Saints, that seems feasible for the first time.
“We’re not going to look ahead. That’s not what we’re about,” Bryant says. “We’re going to focus on our mistakes and try and make it better. That’s what we’re about.”
Their focus on mistakes and correcting those errors appears to be working: After four turnovers in a Week 1 loss to the 49ers, including two interceptions by Romo on passes that were intended for Bryant, the Cowboys have now turned it over just three times in their last three games and are on a winning streak. It seems the turnaround in Dallas could be as real as it’s ever been in Bryant’s tenure in the NFL.
And he might also be the gravitational force that’s keeping it all together.