TAMPA — Many in the media have described WR Antonio Bryant as a player with "baggage."
But never has Bryant reacted as strongly as Wednesday, when he shot back at ESPN analysts Emmitt Smith and Trent Dilfer.
"I'm still trying to figure out what all this baggage is I'm supposed to have," Bryant said. "I'm a real person. And that bull Emmitt said on the TV about 'Get my life right' and Trent Dilfer mentioned something about getting my life right outside of football … don't be a hypocrite."
Dilfer and Bryant were with the 49ers in 2006. Smith and Bryant were with the Cowboys in 2002, Bryant's rookie year.
In on-air comments, Dilfer said: "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."
Smith suggested Bryant's inability to hold his tongue was the cause of his troubles in Dallas and San Francisco, who jettisoned him after run-ins with coaches.
Bryant seemed to suggest both acted friendly to him in person, but he felt betrayed by the criticism, regardless of its validity.
"I can put on a suit just like you and get on TV and talk just like you," Bryant said. "So remember that before you disrespect me like that on TV. I'm a hard worker. I've always been a hard worker. So don't take that away from me … and just let me play football. If you've got something to say to me, say it."
Bryant's 200 receiving yards Monday against Carolina made him a topic of conversation.
"What I said was harmless and something everybody already knew," Dilfer said. "I've always talked about the immense talent. I've been a huge advocate since he was in Cleveland and helped get him to San Francisco. I've supported him 100 percent when he had his issues with Coach (Mike) Nolan. At the same time, he has baggage. And if he's choosing to deny it, that's his problem. But I understand he feels he has played well enough that he believes no one should bring up that baggage anymore, and I'll respect that.''
Smith could not be reached for comment.
PROTECTION PROBLEMS? Jeff Garcia has been sacked 14 times in three games. But coach Jon Gruden said the numbers aren't a fair representation.
"A lot of the sacks are scramble opportunities that Jeff has made," he said. "I'm really comfortable with the way the pocket looks, the pickups."
INJURY UPDATE: DT Jovan Haye (knee) missed Wednesday's practice as did NT Chris Hovan (knee). Garcia participated on a limited basis because of a calf injury, but Gruden didn't appear concerned because it is not the calf that limited Garcia for two weeks in training camp.