No ‘whining about wine’ for me

He can catch a pass, but he can’t catch a break.

Dallas Cowboys receiver Dez Bryant seems to be a target for negative press. The rookie refused to carry teammate Roy Williams’ pads during training camp, later claiming he wasn’t aware it was playful rookie hazing. Bryant was quickly chastised throughout sports media for his attitude.

Williams promised revenge, joking he’d make Bryant pay for a dinner. That dinner came last Tuesday at Pappa Bros. Steakhouse, with a tab of $54,896. Basically, an ESPN report said, teammates came and ordered everything on the menu, including expensive bottles of wine to go.

The instant reaction was that Bryant and the Cowboys shouldn’t spend that way with so many Americans having financial difficulties.

My over-the-top favorite is SBNation’s take, modestly titled, “How Dez Bryant’s Dinner Ruined America.”

It tells a story of a future America with starving people (the editors apparently couldn’t imagine starving people in the present), speaking rhetorically about how Bryant’s dinner set off a domino effect.

It quotes a tweet from Sports Illustrated’s Peter King as well. The longtime football writer who writes an often enjoyable Monday Morning Quarterback column posted, “ The Bryant tab is disgusting in all ways — his mates for joyously taking advantage of him, plus blind spending when all of USA is strapped.”

As much as I’d love to berate Bryant paying his penance — because I love nothing more than causing misery to Dallas Cowboy fans — I can’t join the, “whine about wine” crowd.

I don’t feel sorry for Bryant, who’s got $11.8 million in salary and an $8.5 million signing bonus if he lasts all five years with the Cowboys. His bravado is at least partially to blame for negative press he’s received. And there are smarter things he could buy.

But let’s think about the people on the clock at Pappa Bros. that night. A standard component of any sit-down restaurant is an automatic large-party gratuity. Assuming a low 15 percent was included — a standard in the industry for parties of eight or more — the tip portion of Bryant’s hazing comes out to about $7,100.

What do you think the reaction would be if I walked into Dakota’s Steakhouse or Cattle Baron tonight and told the staff they’d have a busy night, but they’d split a $7,000 tip? Something tells me they wouldn’t respond, “Tonight will ruin America.” It would be closer to, “Hello, car payment.”

I hope Bryant continues to tick people off. And I hope when he pays his penance, there’s a financial trickle that helps people — the very same people sports columnist nation claims Bryant disrespected.

Besides, I think every American has some ridiculous restaurant story. There’s the time two of my friends went out to a steakhouse, and the waitress mistakenly thought one of them ordered two chicken fried steak dinners. The fat jokes lasted for years on that one.

And I can’t help but smile when I think of the time a friend of mine told a boot camp story where the mess hall was substandard that night, and a quick survey of the camp had him calling a pizza place and asking, “How much pizza can we get for $2,000?”

Now, Dez Bryant has a restaurant story. And America’s still here. Try to act shocked.