Cowboys coach Wade Phillips had just finished the anti-hazing portion of Monday's news conference when one of my former colleagues bravely asked him what he thought about tight end Martellus Bennett's nude photos on the Internet. Just another day of training camp in San Antonio.
I thought Phillips actually did a credible job Monday of condemning hazing while trying to move the conversation back to football, but even he had to marvel at how this story gained traction across the country and into Canada. The Cowboys' head coach said that someone told him the Dez Bryant-Roy Williams incident led the news in Toronto on Monday morning. I'm told the folks from BP contacted the Cowboys to express their appreciation for a one-day reprieve. And yes, CNN weighed in on the story Monday, although Wolf Blitzer resisted the urge to address this topic from the Situation Room.
Tim Cowlishaw of ESPN's "Around the Horn" fame had an interesting take on the Bryant story this morning, noting that the Cowboys could have made this go away a lot sooner:
"After the first three practices, Bryant had been the most accommodating of interview subjects, staying 20, even 30 minutes to talk and talk and talk," writes Cowlishaw. "But once his reluctance to go along with a fairly obscure part of Cowboys' tradition became public knowledge, Bryant chose to run from the story.
"He could have put it to rest by carrying Williams' pads Monday and joking about it. Why the Cowboys public relations department didn't make that happen is beyond me. But perhaps Bryant refused to go along with their suggestions as well."
I gave former Cowboys great Drew Pearson a call Monday to ask him about the Bryant affair. The man who made No. 88 famous in Dallas had some great insight that you can hear on this ESPN 103.3 exclusive audio.
Oh, and about that naked tight end: Calvin Watkins of ESPNDallas.com reported that the photos of Bennett were taken four years ago and posted without his consent. You think?
"These pictures were taken four years ago and placed on the Internet recently without my knowledge or consent," Bennett said in a statement released by the club Monday. "I understand that they are totally inappropriate. And for that I am sorry. I regret the embarrassment that it has caused the organization."
As Watkins notes, Bennett joins a growing list of professional athletes who have shown up on the Internet in their birthday suits. We'll continue to monitor this story ... but not too closely.