As he sulked off the field Sunday with over a minute left in Dallas’ 37-36 lost to Green Bay, former Oklahoma State University wide receiver Dez Bryant unwittingly provided a stark contrast between a pampered, spoiled, immature professional athlete and the surpassing maturity of players who face adversity and disappointment every day at a much lower level of play.
And it led to only one conclusion: Dez Bryant and other self-centered professional athletes could stand to grow up and act more like high school athletes.
Bryant’s immaturity was a far cry from what was on display following the Class B and Class C 8-man football championships this past Saturday in Weatherford at Southwestern Oklahoma State from players such as Pond Creek-Hunter’s Trenton Grimes and Cherokee’s Tanner Bowman.
The Dallas wide receiver said he left the field early because he was afraid he was going to cry in front of the camera and went to the locker room to apparently shed some tears. Never mind the rest of his teammates had to deal with the disappointment and frustration of losing a game in which they held a 26-3 lead at halftime and managed to man-up.
Of course, it’s just the latest immature outburst from Bryant who earlier this season was seen on the sideline carrying on during another loss.
But while Bryant can run and hide, on the high school gridiron there is no place to hide.
Moments after his team lost for the second straight year in the Class B championship game to Laverne, this time 42-12 following last season’s 50-19 loss, Pond Creek-Hunter standout Trenton Grimes did not back down or run and hide.
Sure, he probably shed a few tears in the immediate moments after the game, and holding the sliver ball runner-up trophy was hardly the moment he had envisioned. He lived through that once already.
But, as tough as it was at that moment, Grimes somehow composed himself after the game and gave a heartfelt answer to the obligatory question of how much the loss hurt.
Looking the reporter straight in the eye and still holding the silver ball, Grimes answered the question without flinching.
“It’s a straight dagger to the heart, honestly” he said. “Both years, they hurt equally. It just knocks the wind out of you and knocks you to your knees. It just kills you.”
The fact he delivered the comment without even the slightest hint of quivering was impressive.
Later that night at the same location, the Class C 8-man football championship was decided, won by undefeated Cherokee 38-14 in convincing fashion over previously unbeaten and top-ranked Tipton.
Among the celebrating players was one player, quarterback Tanner Bowman, who has dealt with more heartache than any 16-year-old should have to bear.
Two years ago, at only 14, his mother was killed over the Thanksgiving holiday in a two-car accident on Oklahoma 132, returning from shopping for Christmas gifts. He was in the car too, and was seriously injured, with a broken femur, broken wrist, collapsed lungs, two broken ribs and a fractured hip.
Bowman had already, even before the crash took his mother away from him, known the heartache of losing someone close in an accident when his friend Noel Gonzales, then a freshman athlete at Medford High School, was killed in a car accident the year prior to his mom’s accident.
He told the Enid News & Eagle after the Chiefs’ 42-6 semifinal win over Shattuck two weeks earlier, “I know my mom was out here playing with me. I know I have my guardian angel out here looking out for me. There’s nothing better than knowing that she is next to me.”
If indeed there are guardian angels, then his mom was surely there again this past Saturday night when he led the Chiefs to their title, but it would be hard to imagine her smile beaming any brighter than her son’s that night.
“It’s (winning a championship) everything I imagined, he said on the field after the game Saturday night. “There is nothing better.”
Then he added, “It’s the greatest day of my life.” Nobody deserved it more than Bowman.
The maturity of Trenton Grimes and the resolve and strength of Tanner Bowman should embarrass professional prima Donnas like Bryant, who wallow in their own self-absorbed, contrived grief over a loss.
“It’s difficult for everybody when things don’t go well and he needs to understand how to handle it,” Dallas head coach Jason Garrett said regarding Bryant’s early exit.
Maybe Bryant should be introduced to Grimes, who certainly showed how to handle disappointment, or Bowman who could explain a thing or two to Bryant about dealing with the difficulty of things not going well in life. It may at least give him perspective, if not maturity.
Ruthenberg is sports editor at the News & Eagle. Contact him at email@example.com.