(wikipedia photo)

Two years ago, Dallas Cowboys WR Dez Bryant was looking like a bust after being selected in the first round of the 2010 draft.

He couldn’t run a pattern, meaning his quarterback would throw the ball to the wrong spot, most likely into the hands of an opposing defensive back.

Bryant dropped passes. He ranted on the sidelines when things didn’t go his way. He acted immature. He showed up late for team meetings.

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His off-field behavior wasn’t much better. Bryant accrued debts that he couldn’t pay, and was sued. A security guard tried to eject Bryant and some of his friends from a Dallas mall because of their baggy pants, and Bryant yelled at him. Miami police detained Bryant after an altercation at a Miami nightclub.

And police arrested him in connection with misdemeanor domestic violence after Bryant allegedly struck his mother.

A spotty background is one reason he fell to the Cowboys with the 24th pick of the draft when his talent should have made him a Top 10 pick.

Former Cowboys WR Drew Pearson complained in 2012 that Bryant wasn’t living up to the standards set by earlier wideouts who had donned the hallowed No. 88 jersey, including Pearson and Michael Irvin.

Bryant improved in every area in 2013, which is why he’s been named the second best wideout in the NFL. Only the incredible Calvin Johnson ranked higher.

The story’s authors said this about Bryant: “In almost every game he plays, the wideout has more talent than anybody else out there, regardless of team or position. He’s simply that good, able to make spectacular plays that others only dream about. Does he have some maturity issues? Sure. But most of them stem from a desire to win, which isn’t exactly the biggest sin in the world.”

Congratulations to Bryant for rising above his shortcomings, taming his temptations, and responding to his critics by kicking butt on the football field and being a better person off it.

Next stop, Super Bowl.