Dez Bryant Should Have Grown Up on Nebraska St


I still think Dez caught that ball in Green Bay.

It was a great catch.

But, to be honest, we made better catches on Nebraska Street when I was growing up in Norman in the sixties.

Dez only had to deal with one short defensive back. Big deal.

We had to contend with cars and trucks, concrete curbs, angry mothers, and Grampa Mac.

Our only street light was in front of  my best friend Steve Madden’s house, at the corner of Berry Road and Nebraska Street, opposite his fire hydrant.

Or “far hydrant” as Steve would say.

That street light was essential for summer street football. 

Because, when we were 10-12 years old, there was no way on Earth we were going home until it was pitch black and our mothers were screaming out all three of our given names . 

Steve and I were 100% committed to perfecting the ability to catch a football, and keep both feet in bounds no matter what, so the pass was complete under NFL and NCAA rules.

If Dez had grown up with us, his concentration and reflexes would have been way better.  If he’d survived, that is.

To make a truly great catch on Nebraska Street, it had to be deep in the 4th quarter (after 9pm), and involve the risk of death.

Especially when Grampa Mac’s beat up old El Camino would skid round the corner, bounce off the curb, and become a real hazard for street football players.

We had no sissy rules or time-outs.  So if you happened to be in the path of Grampa Mac, and the ball was in the air, that was just your tough luck.

You STILL had to make the catch or be a total wussy. 

Greatest Catch 

I still remember my greatest catch ever.

My best friend Steve Madden was QB’ing, and doing a three-step drop onto Berry Road, between cars.

I was planning to run a simple down-out-and-down, making the catch about 25 yards downfield, then cutting behind his Dad’s work truck. We’d done it a million times.

But this time, right before the snap (on two – Hut, HUT – always on two) out of the corner of his eye, Steve saw the weaving headlights coming down Berry Road.

He knew it was Grampa Mac, who was basically blind at night. 

Steve gave me a look that said, “We could both get killed, you know?”

And I gave him a look that said “Run the dang play, woosie!”

So “Hut, HUT”.

Now, I don’t want to be too hard on Dez, but he could have learned a lot from my release from the line of scrimmage.

A nuanced head fake, and I was off like a gazelle.

Steve had to back-pedal fast to avoid getting clipped by Grampa Mac as he skidded left onto Nebraska Street.  

Falling backwards, he lofted a spiral high into the night.

By then, I’d run the down-and-out part of the pass route, given a head-fake to an imaginary cornerback, and drifted toward the middle of the road.

I was in full flight, because I knew Grampa Mac was bearing down on me. And there’s no way he could have seen me. Or stopped.

I was longing for the thrill of victory, but I sensed the agony of defeat, because I lost the ball in the darkness. 

Then I got a break. Grampa Mac’s headlights reflected just briefly off what was left of the white half circle on the end of our scuffed up street football. 

I adjusted my speed and pattern and went for the ball. I knew it was going to be very, very close.

If I wasn’t fast enough, Grampa Mac was going to run right over me, and probably drag my carcass 100 yards to his house.  

And Steve would never, ever let me forget it.

But this was my night.

I leaped up in stride and made the single greatest, one-handed, fully perpendicular, not-getting-smashed-by-Grampa-Mac-AND-getting-both-feet-down-in-bounds catch in the history of Nebraska Street.

Dez, you shoulda been there.  It would have helped you a lot in Green Bay.

3 Responses to “Dez Bryant Should Have Grown Up on Nebraska St”

  1. Kris says:

    I love this story.

    Meanwhile, I just spent fifteen minutes throwing a tennis ball back and forth with my younger daughter. A tennis ball … the friendliest possible ball … and we stood perhaps 20 feet apart. During the fifteen minutes of underhanded catch, my daughter screamed and wept and cut herself on a tree branch and also numbed two of her fingers because she insisted on catching the ball with stiffly spread and outstretched hands.

    Also, she was cold and her shoe came untied and she wondered forlornly why I was punishing her with athletics.

    I have failed this child.

    • hams says:

      Har. The Maj would not have made it on Nebraska Street. When we played with tennis balls, one guy stood next to the concrete wall at the park. The other guy stood at the freethrow line and tried to kill him. It was great.

    • hams says:

      Wait. Youngest daughter??? I would’ve thought Kallan could kill you with a tennis ball. Go figger.

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