How Dez Bryant Got Stuck With the Most Expensive NFL Team Dinner in History

The team wanted to teach the rookie a lesson.

dez bryant
Dez Bryant #88 of the Dallas Cowboys in action against the Philadelphia Eagles at Lincoln Financial Field on December 31, 2017. (Mitchell Leff/Getty Images)
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Back in 2010, just two days into his first training camp with the Cowboys, Dez Bryant made an enemy with receiver Roy Williams. Williams asked Dez to carry his pads — a pretty innocent hazing ritual that Williams himself had been through. But Bryant said no, that he was drafted to play football, not carry other player’s pads. Williams, a seven-year veteran, said he pulled the rookie aside to talk about it, and he told reporters that everything was fine. But the next time the team went dinner, Williams found that he was a little bit hungrier and thirstier than usual. The offense’s annual group dinner goes like this: the veterans order whatever they want while the rookies foot the bill. The undrafted agents paid a flat fee, the drafted players would pay a prorated amount based on their draft slot, and Bryant, the first-round pick, 24th overall, with $8.3 million in guaranteed money, would pay the rest.

ESPN writes that rumor has it, some veterans saw this as a way to get back at Bryant. Which is how the most expensive team dinner in history happened. When they arrived, the Cowboys started ordering the most expensive items on the menu, like lobster tails, prawn shrimp, steaks “as big as your head.” But the real damage was done thanks to the drink menu. The restaurant, Pappas Bros, owns one of the most extensive wine lists in all of Texas. The players were ordering lavish drinks like Cristal, Ace of Spades, Patrón bottles. Jesse Holley, a second-year receiver on that team at the time, said: “they were ordering bottles of Cristal and pouring them into flower pots” (though Rick Turner, the general manager of that Pappas Bros. restaurant said it didn’t go that far). They also ordered 10 to 15 shots of Louis XIII—at about $1,700 apiece.

The reported final bill was $54,896, according to ESPN. Stephen McGee, the third-string quarterback on that team says that he doesn’t remember Bryant even flinching, he just paid the bill. But several veteran players did step in and help with the tab as well. Other rumors say that Jerry Jones may have intervened as well.

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