Dallas Cowboys linebacker Keith Brooking is a 14-year veteran, and has seen his share of talented players. So when he calls troubled wide receiver Dez Bryant "more talented than any player I've ever been around," he's saying something.
Brooking also has the experience to know that it's hard to be successful in the NFL while making the wrong kind of headlines.
"I mean, the NFL is big-boy football," Brooking said in an interview with NFL.com. "Organizations aren't into babysitting. At the end of the day, you have to be a pro."
Brooking said he doesn't know anything about Bryant's personal life, and didn't want to comment about the latest incident involving the wide receiver, in which he ran into some unspecified trouble at a Miami nightclub. He did say, though, that "there's a pattern there, so something's not right."
"I mean, guys make mistakes. I'd be a hypocrite if I said, you know, you can't ever make a mistake, you can't ever get in trouble," Brooking said. "But at the end of the day, I mean, eventually, you've got to step up and be a pro and do the right thing.
"There's just so much potential there. I'd really hate to see that go by the wayside."
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Brooking's frustrations didn't end there. The linebacker discussed the early end to the Cowboys' season, pointing to a lack of consistency as one of the reasons that the team fell short of the playoffs.
"I don't know if we're as talented as everyone thinks we are defensively," he said, with regard to the high expectations that were set for the 8-8 team.
He had good things to say about defensive coordinator Rob Ryan, who came under fire after his unit participated in a number of late-game collapses.
"I don't think it had anything to do with coaching," Brooking said of the team's troubles. "I don't think it had anything to do with scheme. I've played a lot of football, and I think Rob Ryan's scheme will hold up anywhere. He's doing the right things. But at the end of the day, it's about execution, and I think the players, more than anything, let the team down."