Defensive Tackle David Irving, who is set to be an unrestricted free agent this year, took to Instagram yesterday to defend his value as an NFL player. Unfortunately for Irving, his track record over the last four seasons with the Dallas Cowboys tells a different story from his own.
Just last week, it was being reported that the Cowboys did not plan to make any effort to re-sign Irving. That may be what pushed David to make a post like this one, wanting to plead his case before free agency opens on March 13th.
Here is the full text of Irving’s social media post:
“I’m in the NFL because I’m great at what I do. I’m not in the NFL because I’m an Eagle Scout, or the perfect model citizen. I didn’t put on a mask or kiss ass to be where I am. I’m here on natural ability. This is God’s plan. Not mine. Trust me, I’m adjusting to it as well. Once I step on the field and stop performing , THEN we have a problem…. So does anyone have anything to say about my play?”
The “model citizen” comment took me back about 25 years to the heyday of my all-time favorite NBA player, Charles Barkley. In 1993, Barkley famously did a commercial for Nike in which he declared “I am not a role model” and “I am paid to wreak havoc on the basketball court.”
I agreed with Barkley then and I agree with that notion now. The idea that professional athletes need to have better behavior than the average person, or set an example for children, always has been and always will be silly.
They are modern-day gladiators, and we wouldn’t care one bit about their personal lives if they weren’t in the business of entertaining us.
Commercial for Nike, Featuring Charles Barkley. Recorded in 1993.
But unlike David Irving, Sir Charles didn’t allow his edgy behavior to interfere with his game. He was an MVP, 11-time All Star, and a first-ballot Hall of Fame inductee.
He recognized that he actually had to be active to wreaked havoc. That’s what Irving doesn’t seem to get.
In four seasons David has only appeared in 37 of a possible 64 regular season games. He’s started each of the last years with a four-game suspension, one for performance-enhancing drugs and the other for illegal drug use.
In 2018, Irving appeared in just two games in October and then vanished for the remainder of the season with a high ankle sprain. Over time, it was reported that Irving was missing meetings and practices while also dealing with personal issues related to the custody of his daughter.
In his Instagram post, David said, “Once I step on the field and stop performing, THEN we have a problem.” He doesn’t seem to get that missing 14 of 16 games is just as bad.
There is no question that David Irving can produce when he actually plays. In 2017 he posted seven sacks in just eight games, which is why Dallas gave him a second-round tender as a restricted free agent last offseason.
Had Irving built on that performance in 2018 then we wouldn’t be having this discussion. The Cowboys might have been having to decide which defensive linemen they wanted to use their franchise tag on between David and DeMarcus Lawrence.
But instead, Irving killed his chance with a Dallas team that actually has a big need at defensive tackle and plenty of cap space. The fact they’re moving on from him says volumes about his work ethic and desire for the game.
Yes, he gets results on the field. Irving’s been blessed with a natural size and athleticism that most football players could only wish for.
The Cowboys aren’t moving on because he’s not a “model citizen.” That never been a prerequisite to play here.
Dallas is moving on because David Irving’s a bad teammate and employee, and all that natural talent is worthless when he can’t get on the field.
Some of you are probably wondering why the Cowboys wouldn’t simply give Irving a cheap deal to stick around. After all, if he gets suspended again he doesn’t count against your 53-man roster limit.
The fact that the team isn’t pursuing that, unlike their ongoing loyalty to a guy like Randy Gregory, says volumes about how they perceive David’s desire to play football.
Dallas will deal with character issues, as we also saw when they got in bed with Greg Hardy a few years back. If a guy can help them win, the Cowboys have proven willing to ignore a lot when it comes to personal conduct and reputation.
But once that conduct limits your ability to actually play and contribute to winning, then what good are you?
David Irving is going to have to realize that if he wants to have an NFL career. He may get a second chance somewhere, but he’s a lot closer to the commissioner’s exempt list than Canton at this point.
For a guy with so much talent, he hasn’t produced half as much as he thinks.