No sense, plenty of cents: Dez Bryant's $55,000 dinner attacked, while Big Ben excused

No sense, plenty of cents: Dez Bryant's $55,000 dinner attacked, while Big Ben excused

Dallas Cowboy rookie receiver Dez Bryant can't say he wasn't warned.

Bryant sparked a minor controversy during training camp for refusing to carry the shoulder pads of veteran wide receiver Roy Williams a team initiation common on NFL teams.

Williams said he would let Bryant focus on football and not worry about it, with one small caveat: "When we go out to eat, I'm gonna be a little bit more hungry and a little bit more thirsty."

It looks like that was the understatement of the century. After the Cowboys' commanding victory in Houston on Sunday, Bryant invited the offensive players to dinner at Pappas Bros. Steakhouse on Monday. Williams brought along the defense too, ordering nearly everything on the menu and walking out with bottles of wine and champagne. (Pappas sells several four-figure vintages, including a few that can fetch upwards of $50,000.)

The final total when Bryant got the bill? $54,896.

Luckily for Bryant, his bank account can handle the expense. He's got a five-year contract for $11.8 million, $8.3 million of which is guaranteed. His salary for the year is $320,000, not including potential bonuses for the playoffs and additional playing time, plus a $2.5 million signing bonus.

If all the parties involved, including coach Wade Phillips, are laughing off the stunt, some observers aren't as easily amused.

CBS Sports' Gwen Knapp argues it's indicative of a culture that encourages players to live lavishly beyond even their substantial means, noting that 78 percent of retired NFL players report money problems.

Sports Illustrated's Peter King tweeted that the stunt was "disgusting." (Not disgusting to King? Welcoming back Rapey McRaperson  Ben Roethlisberger.)

Others have expressed concern the blatant spending will have a negative effect on NFL Players Association upcoming negotiations with owners on the a new collective bargaining agreement. Where is Forbes' list of the most lucrative sports franchises when you need it?

For Dez Bryant, if there are money lessons that need to be learned, they won't begin or end with this dinner. But it's a good lesson for future rookies who think they are too good to pay their dues.

Just carry the pads, already.

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Dez Bryant
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Courtesy of Pappa Bros. Steakhouse
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Courtesy of Pappa Bros. Steakhouse
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Courtesy of Pappa Bros. Steakhouse