What was at first a mild-sounding family domestic disturbance escalated to a violent fight with a shirt ripped and hair pulled, and now the Dez Bryant assault charge has advanced to another level of awfulness as details continue to emerge.

He threatened his mother’s life. That’s what she told a 911 operator, adding yet another disturbing layer to a story that’s slowly peeling Bryant apart, and destroying any image rehabilitation he had done this offseason.

Part of the 911 audio is available on the Fort Worth Star-Telegram’s website, and it’s quite chilling. She declines medical help, and the police didn’t initially arrest Bryant after seeing no signs of an injury. Those signs developed two days later when Bryant’s mother had swelling on her wrist and around her thumbs, in addition to bruising on her upper arms as a result of a struggle in which her hands and wrists were struck repeatedly when she tried to push away.

As more information surfaces, this continues to deteriorate for the Cowboys receiver who’s blessed with potential and the raw, rare blend of speed and athleticism, but due to his background, upbringing, or both, he’s unable to grow off the field. Consequently, the fear is that his immaturity could ultimately halt his growth on the field. He had been able to limit his troubles to budgetary nonsense prior to this offseason, but over a stretch of just seven months he’s been involved in a nightclub skirmish, and now he’s assaulted his own mother.

The former transgression is nearly routine now, but the latter is unacceptable. When your mother is scared for her life and has to run to the neighbor’s house to call the authorities as Angela Bryant did, how can you be trusted to function properly in an NFL locker room?

You can’t, which is why Bryant needs to be punished. As this grows uglier, there’s an increasingly strong chance that Bryant will face discipline from the league. But as I wrote earlier today, there may still be a prevailing willingness around the league offices to give Bryant a second chance (or fourth? fifth?), which is why he could dodge Roger Goodell’s iron hammer.

If the Cowboys want to ensure that they still get the desired return on their long-term investment in a supremely talented receiver who was a first-round pick, the time to send a message is now, and the only way to do it is through a suspension. Players don’t learn from fines, because they each have custom made DeShawn Steven-esque ATMs in their kitchens, right beside the nightly serving of lamb and the wine cooler filled with Patron.

Bryant needs to miss games, and be put in a position where his absence and his behavior hurts his team, and their ability to win a football game. Of course, that’s not an ideal move for Jerry Jones, lord of Jerry World, because his Cowboys could in fact lose said football game(s).

Sometimes, a short-term loss can lead to far greater long-term gains. That’s where the Cowboys are at with Bryant.