It was a long time coming, but for the first time in, well, practically years for many of us, we finally got some first-hand accounts of Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver Martavis Bryant back on the practice field. It has been a long road, and there is still more for him to travel before he is completely out of the woods, but yesterday was an important milestone along that path.
And it was an interesting day for him all around. While he may not have been particularly active when it comes to catching a ton of passes—there is certainly some rust for him to knock off—he did look impressive in many aspects.
One area in which I believe he has continued to impress since the day that he first reported back to the UPMC Rooney Sports Complex in May for OTAs has been the manner in which he has carried and expressed himself. His first interview with reporters truly looked like a man changed from his experiences.
Months on into the process of returning to the football field, he still retains that same composure while speaking to reporters. Yesterday, for example, he was asked about what steps must be taken, in his understanding, in order to ensure that the next step of his reinstatement—eligibility to play in the regular season—will not be met with the same hiccups as the previous one.
“Just handle my business, do what I’m supposed to do, and maintain my sobriety”, he told the reporter asking him the question, courtesy of a video of the interview snippet provided by Jeremy Fowler for ESPN.
“I’ll be fine”, he added quickly after that, in a reassuring and confident tone. Considering that his reinstatement to participate in the preseason had been delayed for weeks over a seeming technicality, one might be surprised in his assurance, but I find it rewarding.
To be frank, I don’t really know how good I am as a judge of character. And for a person I’ve never met or interacted with, it’s far more difficult to tell. But simply based on how he carries himself today compared to two years ago, I see a man who has actually changed.
Whether or not he did so because he had to or because he wanted to might be up for discussion—no doubt it is a mixture of both, which tends to be the strongest catalyst for change—but I believe, or at least would like to believe, that the change is genuine and that it has stuck, at least for this long.
In both his private and professional life, Bryant seems to be taking significant strides finally toward something better. It also seems that he recognizes this. He should.