A more mature Dez Bryant insists he finally has "found himself" after a bumpy start to his NFL career. Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones and coach Jason Garrett have noticed a change for the better as well.After becoming just the seventh NFL player to sign with Nike's Jordan Brand, Bryant credited the basketball legend for admonishing him to " stay out of trouble."
As it turns out, Bryant actually downplayed Michael Jordan's role in demonstrating professionalism. Bryant's longtime mentor, David Wells, revealed that Jordan and the once-troubled wide receiver talk by phone twice a week and regularly exchange text messages. Los Angeles Clippers point guard Chris Paul also has taken Bryant under his wing.
"They almost treat him like a little brother," Wells told FOXSportsSouthwest.com. "Dez started listening to older people instead of the young guys. Those guys are both married and have stable lives. And that's something Dez craves."
Bryant is putting their example into action. Three years after igniting a controversy by refusing to carry veteran receiver Roy Williams' shoulder pads, Bryant has begun mentoring third-round draft pick Terrance Williams.
"That's one of the things that Michael Jordan preached to him," Wells said. "He wants him to develop as a leader."
Wells certainly paints a rosy picture of a re-invented, wholesome and happy Cowboys star. We almost can imagine Jordan and Bryant whiling away the afternoon hours in a winsome rowboat or tandem bicycle.
It won't mean a lick, though, if Bryant can't stay out of trouble while emerging as the team's most consistent offensive threat. He's at least off to an impressive start on the latter goal.
An "unstoppable" Bryant was the best player on the field in offseason practices, toying with the Cowboys cornerbacks. A 2,000-yard season might be a pipedream, but don't be surprised if Bryant finishes out 2013 as the primary threat to Calvin Johnson's mantle as the greatest receiver on the planet.
Follow Chris Wesseling on Twitter @ChrisWesseling.