Former Oklahoma State and current Dallas Cowboys receiver Dez Bryant told reporters Wednesday that he would be angry if the NCAA did not punish Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel for allegedly accepting money for autographed memorabilia. The recipient of Bryant's anger: the NCAA.
"Hell yeah, I'll be mad," Bryant said. "I will be mad. But I don't want him to get suspended. I will be mad more at the NCAA on how they do things. I just feel like it's not fair. This is something I have no problem talking about because I feel like somebody needs to say something to him and let it be known how they treat people is not right."
Bryant was a dark horse Heisman candidate as a junior wide receiver with Oklahoma State in 2009, coming off an 87-catch, 1,480-yard sophomore campaign. On Oct. 7, just four games into the season, Bryant was declared ineligible by the NCAA for failing to disclose an "interaction" with Deion Sanders. Bryant and Sanders had worked out and ate lunch together on at least one occasion during the offseason. When asked about the relationship by NCAA investigators, Bryant denied that he had met with Sanders. It was that falsehood that led to his indefinite suspension.
Bryant took great pains to say that he did not blame Manziel for his current predicament, even going so far as to endorse payments for players:
"I feel like players in the NCAA should [be paid]. Those fans are coming out to watch them and support them. When they're in college, it's different. You don't get paid like the NFL get paid. I think what would be OK would be to have just a little bit of money in your pocket. It's hard in college. You've got to get a job [in the offseason] if you can. You've got to practice. It's just hard. Sometimes the training table is just not good enough."
Bryant begins his fourth season with the Cowboys in September. He was given the Pro Football Writers Association Most Improved Player Award in 2012, having caught 92 passes for 1,382 yards and 12 touchdowns.