Dez Bryant believes the NCAA was "unfair" in its handling of his rules violation case at Oklahoma State and judged him based on the belief that former NFL player Deion Sanders had been serving as a runner for an agent.
Bryant said in an interview Wednesday that Sanders, now an NFL Network analyst, didn't introduce him to agent Eugene Parker during an offseason meeting that eventually led to the former Oklahoma State wide receiver being suspended for the final nine games of the 2009 season and the Cotton Bowl. Bryant, who has been invited to next week's NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis, left school early and is eligible for this year's draft.
Through the course of the NCAA's inquiry, Bryant said he learned to be more upfront with investigators and he'd tell players who find themselves in his situation to act the same way.
"I would tell the college player to be honest at all times, but at the same time, I just feel like -- I don't know -- the NCAA, they're going to do whatever they want to do," Bryant said.
Bryant believes his punishment was more severe than those handed down by the NCAA to other players who broke rules.
"I'm just going to leave it at that," he said. "I just feel like it was really unfair."
The NCAA suspended Bryant not for meeting with Sanders but for lying to an investigator who questioned the receiver about it. But Bryant doesn't sound like he believes that.
"I lied, which everybody knows that I lied, but I also did tell the truth and tell them that I did go out to (Sanders') house," Bryant said. "But I just feel like there was more to the situation. I feel like they thought that Deion was a runner for Eugene. I didn't even know Eugene at the time. I didn't know him at all.
"Deion never brought him up around me. He never talked football around me. He never talked about what I was going to do after football, who I was thinking about signing with. He never talked about that. He only talked about family to me, and that was it."
Bryant did end up signing with Parker.
"The whole thing wasn't fair, but at the same time, I feel like in my mind, I didn't do anything that bad to hurt myself," Bryant said. "That's why I moved forward. I'm not worrying about the situation anymore. I'm just worrying about finally coming to my dream to get to play in the NFL."
Sanders denied any wrongdoing in the Bryant case during an October interview on NFL Network's "NFL Gameday Morning." Sanders said the problem was that Bryant lied to investigators.
"They wanted to question Dez about our relationship, and Dez was nervous about, 'Why do these NCAA people have me in this room with a closed door questioning me?'" Sanders said. "Now, had I been a liar or falsified any incident or evidence, my story would have collaborated with Dez. The kid said he didn't come to my home. In actuality, he did."
Bryant played in Oklahoma State's first three games of the season before being suspended. He pulled out of school and declared that he was entering the draft almost immediately after the NCAA rejected his appeal on Nov. 5. Bryant said he figured the NCAA would deny the appeal and he already had moved ahead with his plans to go pro.
Bryant finished with 147 catches for 2,425 yards and 29 touchdowns in 28 career games at Oklahoma State. He had 87 receptions for 1,480 yards and 19 TDs during his sophomore year, when he was a Biletnikoff Award finalist.
Bryant said he trained in late November and early December before taking a break to prevent burnout. He resumed workouts last month in preparation for the combine, where he believes he has something to prove.
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"I just want them to see that I've still got it," said Bryant, who also plans to go through Oklahoma State's Pro Day next month. "I still have a strong passion for this game, and it just takes a lot to get out of my comfort zone. It takes a lot."
Bryant had expected to have a hard time coping with being suspended from football, a game he has played since the fifth grade.
"I just knew that this was a steppingstone in life. It's not like I haven't been through anything harder than that," Bryant said. "I felt like just putting it behind, just keeping my chin up and just moving on, and that's what I did. I didn't get down on myself."
The Associated Press contributed to this report.