Dallas Cowboys coach Jason Garrett and several players responded with surprise Tuesday after wide receiver Dez Bryant claimed Monday that several Cowboys players and coaches were responsible for getting him released.
"Dez Bryant has been a great player for this franchise during his time here," Garrett said Tuesday at the Albertsons Companies All-Star Gala, according to ESPN.com. "Certainly a playmaker, a difference-maker. A guy that we all love. Love him as a player, as a person and that will never change.
"It's a challenging situation. A lot of different factors go into these kinds of decisions and again the guidepost for all of this is: What's in the best interest of the Dallas Cowboys? And that's why we made this decision. Wish Dez nothing but the best going forward. He's a special guy. I love him. I will always love him and the impact that he's made on this franchise has been significant."
In an interview on the NFL Network on Monday, Bryant had blamed a group he called "Garrett's guys" for his release.
"I'll say this right here: I believe that Garrett's guys [were responsible]. I would say that," Bryant said. "I believe that. I truly believe that. I won't put no names out, but they know, and I want them to know on this air I know. I'll shoot them a text message and let them know."
According to Jon Machota of the Dallas Morning News, Garrett said he has talked with Bryant a couple times since he was released.
"We had a good, honest discussion. I appreciated the time that he took and how we talked through a lot of different things. He's a special guy, I love him to death," Garrett said.
While Bryant refused to name specific players, he was upset at not being named one of the team's six captains prior to last season.
"Little do they know is, you know, they can wear that 'C' all they want to, but in that locker room ... they know who they communicate with," Bryant said in the interview. "Everybody knows where the real love is at. I'm not throwing anybody under the bus, but that's the difference between me and them."
"Friday was an emotional day for all of us," Witten said, per Machota. "I don't know what all that [Garrett's guys] is about. ... There's really nothing there."
Lee had a similar response.
"It's tough to see because of the type of player he was," Lee said. "Me and Dez came in together. He's one of the best players I ever played with. He's a guy that I fed off his passion. Dez is a dominant football player, and he's gonna continue to be a dominant football player."
The Cowboys saved $8 million against the salary cap by releasing Bryant.
"Dez knows how I feel," said Prescott, according to Machota. "We've shared text messages. He knows my stance on everything, so as I said, I wish him well."