Cowboys receiver Dez Bryant is enjoying the best stretch of football of his career.
It couldn't have come at a better time because the Cowboys struggling offense needs him to break out and my have to ride him and quarterback Tony Romo if they hope to make a playoff run.
"It’s me being Dez, being focused and playing the game I love and doing all the things you need to do to be successful, Bryant said.
The big question is can he be trusted, considering issues he's had with consistency and responsibility on and off the field for the first three years of his career.
Bryant says he can because he is finally ready to take control of his life because of his children Zayne and Dez Jr, ages 5 and 2, respectively.
"It’s me, I know what I want in my life," Bryant said. "I feel like I deserve to be here playing football, doing what I love. Every thing that I’ve been through and experienced is all behind me. I could care less about it. I love football. That’s my main goal. I’ve got two babies and that’s the only thing that matters – me playing this game that I love, making sure that I’m doing everything I need to be doing here, satisfying everybody the way that I want them to be and enjoying my life."
Bryant said he appreciates the support and the kick in the butt he gets at times from Romo, tight end Jason Witten and receiver Miles Austin. He says they are like his big brother and they have been there to keep him in check and he wants that in his life.
To that end the Cowboys have done their best to keep the hammer on Bryant this week. His teammates have not heaped extra praise on him after his career-best 145 yards on 12 receptions against the Browns last week.
Owner Jerry Jones said the team will continue to coach Bryant hard because he likes to be coached hard and works best that way.
"I feel like I respond well to that situation," Bryant said. "It shows that I have people that care. I feel like I went about it the right way. I took it. I look at it as help."
The latter is important because of Bryant's dysfunctional upbringing. He had no real home life growing up in Lufkin. His mom was 14 when she had him and spent time in prison for selling drugs, resulting in Bryant bouncing around among relatives until she got out.
It didn't help that most people past Bryant along and didn't give him strong discipline because they felt for sorry for him or he was such a good athlete they let him do what he wanted.
Bryant says he appreciates a firm hand and now being able to enjoy life the right way because of the structure the Cowboys, his advisor David Wells, attorney Royce West and agent Eugene Parker are giving him. That includes anger management counseling and a full-time security team.
"I don't want to make excuses. But people brought up differently, see different things, been in different things, having two parents, having no parents," Bryant said. "It's different. I just feel like it's been a learning process for me my whole life and I'm just getting to it. I got real responsibilities I feel like I'm handling the right way. I'm enjoying my life the way I should have enjoying it a long time ago."
Bryant said doesn't necessarily regret the pitfalls of his past. He says they have helped him realize the errors of his ways and focus in on what's important.
He said little brother is finally growing up.
"All the way, man," Bryant said. "I’ve got real responsibilities. It’s really not because of how I got all of this stuff I’ve got to do, I need to change my act up. I understand that. I’m doing things I’ve been wanting to do. I feel like now, with the stuff that’s happened, it’s actually helped me get some of this stuff up out of the way."