Now, I don't support Jeff Ireland asking Dez Bryant if his mother's a prostitute. By no means do I think that's an acceptable thing to ask. I'm trying to think of a context where that question would be acceptable. Maybe if right before Ireland asked it, Bryant had said, "...and just last night my mother had sex for money like she very often does." But even in that circumstance it would probably be over the line to ask a question like that. And the question is certainly not acceptable, in my opinion, in the interest of "gathering character information to protect his investment" as Ireland claimed his query was.
THAT SAID, if you were going to take the guy to task for this, as Rick Reilly attempts to do in his ESPN column, you might want to choose your counterpoints a little more carefully than the Million Dollar Man does. Let's check it out!
Let's play a game. I'll describe a childhood, and you figure out who had it.
Person No. 1 -- Raised in his grandmother's brothel, the son of a prostitute, he was raped by a neighbor at 6 and molested by a Catholic priest during catechism.
Person No. 2 -- Considered useless and distant, teachers wrote of him, as noted in Catherine Hurley's "Could do Better": "Certainly on the road to failure … hopeless … rather a clown in class … wasting other pupils' time."
Person No. 3 -- Raised in the brothel run by his aunt, he was once sent home from school for "insufficient clothes" and was arrested at 15 for breaking into cars.
1. Richard Pryor.
2. John Lennon.
3. James Brown.
Arguably the greatest comedian, songwriter and soul singer of the 20th century, respectively.
The question isn't: "Why did Miami Dolphins GM Jeff Ireland ask Oklahoma State wide receiver Dez Bryant if his mom was a prostitute?" The question is: "Why should it matter?"
You're not drafting the mom, you're drafting the son!
Well, like I said, I agree with Reilly's general point but let's look at his counterexamples--all great "artists" (depending on how willing you are to call a joke-teller an artist) to be sure, but perhaps poor examples of people suited to the level of discipline required to be an NFL superstar. Let's take a photojournalistic look at Reilly's examples.
1. Richard Pryor
2. John Lennon
3. James Brown