David Irving, Dallas Cowboys

© Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

Dallas Cowboys Empathetic As David Irving Deals With 'Real-Life' Crisis

October 10, 2018 - 8:38 pm

FRISCO (105.3 THE FAN) -- The obstacle preventing defensive tackle David Irving from being with the Dallas Cowboys on a daily basis has nothing to do with a drug suspension, an emotional difference or a dislike for football.

"David appreciates the support of the Jones family and Cowboys fans who understand he's dealing with real-life issues here,'' attorney Daniel Moskowitz tells me on Wednesday afternoon as Irving missed yet another workout at The Star. "He has every intention of playing football as soon as possible.''

The "real-life issues'' are, I'm told, a continuation of the custody battle that marred Irving's spring and summer, difficulties that have him concerned about the well-being of his family. I'm not trying to be cute or dismissive when I write and say that some guys are "It's Always Something'' guys; I'm saying it here because the stories I'm being told about what Irving is dealing with here really, really are something. ... an acceleration from the offseason during which he told he he simply wanted "peace'' for his young daughter and himself.

Is this a continuation of the same-old/same-old with Irving? It's easy to understand why observers think that. He missed the first four games of this season under NFL suspension, officially returned last Tuesday for a meeting inside team headquarters and practiced on Wednesday. But that was the end of that, as he missed Thursday and Friday for what the club labeled "personal family reasons'' and then didn’t make the trip for the team’s 19-16 overtime loss at Houston. The Cowboys said that Irving was expected back for meetings on Tuesday but that didn't happen. He was also absent Wednesday. Counting Irving missing the end of last season with a concussion, then staying away from workouts during OTAs, most of minicamp and all of training camp in Oxnard, he's essentially practiced once since last November.

“Physically he is (cleared to play),” coach Jason Garrett said on Wednesday of Irving's potential availability for 2-3 Dallas' home game Sunday against Jacksonville. “He just hasn’t practiced very much. Our hope is he’s able to do that starting tomorrow and hopefully get him ready for the game this weekend. Yeah, (he's) just trying to get it resolved.”

Irving, who had seven sacks in eight games last season, is the sort of talent a team often decides to afford to be patient with.

“He’s something special,” team captain Tyrone Crawford said, suggesting that Irving is the rare talent who can excel without the usual amount of workouts. “His wingspan does it all. ... (But) yeah, he has to show up in practice to play, for sure. We know that. It’s obvious you have to know what we’re doing during the week. I feel like when he comes tomorrow he’ll get everything he needs to know to get out there on Sunday.”

I have suggested to Garrett (and write here) that as true as Crawford's statement is ("He doesn't even have to stretch and he's the most flexible guy on the team!'' he said), it's hard to build a foundation on players who, for whatever justifiable reason, cannot show up to down. “Yeah, sometimes guys have issues that they have to deal with and in order for them to be the kind of player you want them to be they got to get those issues handled,” Garrett said. “David’s been a good player for us and hopefully he can get some things resolved, get back and start competing for some playing time and help our defense.”

Irving has a right and a reason to keep the details of this latest conflict private. But I can say that the people who know some of the details have developed some empathy. “The issues that are going on with David are things that have to be handled and that’s what he’s doing,” Crawford said. “He’s handling them. I don’t fault the man for handling what he has to handle as a man.”