Dunlap: Will Martavis Bryant Play It Straight This Time?

PITTSBURGH (93-7 The Fan) – I am rooting for Martavis Bryant.

But I wouldn’t bet on him.

That’s just the reality of all this.

Certainly I would like the young man to wise up, play it straight, walk the good side of the line and have it all figured out this time. I would love that for his sake and for the Steelers’ sake. Who wouldn’t?

But would you bet on that happening? I don’t know. That seems to be a pretty tough proposition.

Imagine if someone made you pick one of two options, and the choices were only as follows … either he would:

– Not screw up again

OR

– Screw up again

Which one would you pick? I know I would, no matter how hard I thought about it, have to go with the latter. It’s tough, it’s probably unfair, but it is also just the reality of the situation with a guy like Bryant, who has missed 20 regular-season games in just two seasons for running on the wrong side of the NFL substance abuse policy multiple times.

[graphiq id=”3nwTKaCo6Md” title=”Martavis Bryant Overview” width=”600″ height=”675″ url=”https://w.graphiq.com/w/3nwTKaCo6Md” ]

When he plays, he’s a stud; the perfect complementary piece to irrefutable No. 1 receiver Antonio Brown. Bryant gallops and bolts through a secondary like few who have ever worn a Steelers jersey — and that isn’t hyperbole in this opinion. When I say ever, I mean ever. His mixture of size, speed and skill could put him on a track to be among the greatest Steelers receivers ever. Again, I mean any man who has ever caught a pass for the Pittsburgh Steelers.

That’s when he’s on the field, when things are going right and he has the football in his hands making it all look so effortless.

When he’s off it, there’s no telling what can go on. And to that end, it shouldn’t be in the Steelers’ interest to need to babysit a 25-year-old man who has reached the top of his profession (few make it to the NFL) and makes much, much more than most people his age, as there aren’t a ton of guys in their mid-20s walking around pulling down an average salary of $664,000.

In short, Martavis Bryant probably has just one more chance with this franchise — and maybe all of the NFL — to grow up.

I root for the young man. I want him to become a success story and get his life squared away and make those flashes of talent he’s shown some sustained excellence in this league. It would be one hell of a comeback story.

But when I say that to myself, I have a hard time reconciling if someone who has been so much this leopard can change one of his spots, let alone all of them.

The truth is, I wouldn’t bet on Martavis Bryant to finally have things figured out; if you pinned me down and made me pick, I would think he probably screws up again. The other truth, though: I would love to be proven dead wrong.

Colin Dunlap is a featured columnist at CBSPittsburgh.com. He can also be heard weekdays from 5:40 a.m. to 10 a.m. on Sports Radio 93-7 “The Fan.” You can e-mail him at colin.dunlap@cbsradio.com. Check out his bio here.

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