Bryant: ESPN's Smith, Dilfer 'disrespected me'
Bucs receiver Antonio Bryant said he was disrespected by ESPN's Emmitt Smith and Trent Dilfer for describing him as a player with off-field baggage.
The comments were made prior to Monday night's game at Carolina. Bryant had nine catches for a career-high 200 yards and two touchdowns against the Panthers.
Dilfer said of Bryant, "He's got immense talent. Could be one of the best receivers in the NFL if he can get a handle on some of the off-the-field emotional issues.''
Bryant took exception to those comments and more.
"I'm still trying to figure out what all this baggage is I'm supposed to have,'' Bryant said. "I'm being serious. I'm a real person and that bull---- Emmitt said on the TV about 'get my life right,' Trent Dilfer mentioned something about getting my life right outside of football. Last time I checked, man, don't be a hypocrite, man. This is me. A lot of y'all can't really walk on the same side of the street I can walk on and still go put on a suit. I can put on a suit just like you and get on TV and talk just like you. But I can still go home and still be me. So remember that, before you disrespect me like that on TV. I never said nothing bad about anybody out here, man, but just don't disrespect me like that. That's real. I'm out here, I'm a hard worker. I've always been a hard worker. So don't take that away from me, man, and just let me play football. If you've got something to say to me, say it...that's to Emmitt and Trent Dilfer. I really man that. That bothers me, man.'
Bryant said he spoke to Smith, who was broadcasting from Bank of America Stadium, prior to Monday night's game. Dilfer was a teammate of Bryant's in 2006 with the 49ers.
"I spoke to Emmitt, but I couldn't believe he went back and starting talking about how I got in trouble because of my mouth,'' Bryant said. "I'm really not that type of dude. I don't really talk to people like that. Like I said, don't take no shots at me like that, man. I'm a real person, man. I talk to all those guys outside of football. (Warren) Sapp. Those guys know where I'm from. They know how we're built where I'm from. I've talked to Sapp, I've talked to Deion (Sanders). Go ask some of them. Talk to Sapp, Deion and (Michael) Irvin. Talk to somebody who's going to tell you something real. Not nobody that's doing it for TV.''
Bryant leads the Bucs with 66 receptions for 936 yards and five touchdowns. His 200-yard performance against the Panthers was the second-best single-game output by a receiver in club history.
After well-documented dustups with Bill Parcells in Dallas and Mike Nolan in San Francisco, Bryant was out of football last season. He was suspended four games by the NFL toward the end of the 2006 season because of his arrest on suspicion of driving under the influence. Bryant did not play in 2007.
Since coming to Tampa Bay, he has started every game and not missed a practice.
"They think I'm crazy because I do some wild stuff,'' Bryant said of his Bucs teammates. "But we have fun, man, and I like the feeling that everybody knows, hey...it's the feeling when I was in high school we used to say before every game, coach would go down the roster and everybody would say, "Count on me.' That's the mentality I come in this locker room with. I want guys to be able to count on me so I just try to go out there and put myself in position where they can feel that way.''
Bucs coach Jon Gruden said he wished people would judge Bruant for what he's accomplished since coming to Tampa Bay.
"I just know why we have to do that. My opinion is judge him yourself,'' Gruden said. "I wish people would do that. We have a tendency, I think sometimes, to forget about the reality that this guy has come in here and been a heck of a Buccaneer, a heck of a player. There's a lot of good things happening.
"There are a lot of guys that come from different situations. You don't know the exact details of what happened or what's true or what isn't. I just would prefer for us all to judge Antonio Bryant for what he's done since he's been here. And all he's done for me and this team and this city is play his heart out. And I commend him. I think he's got a chance to be one of the great Buccaneers receivers we've ever had here.''