Cowboys' quarterback questions Michael Irvin's absence
Jun. 03, 1997
IRVING, Texas (AP) _ The Dallas Cowboys have added one All-Pro receiver and are still missing another.
The Cowboys signed free-agent receiver Anthony Miller on Monday, but it was another star wideout, Michael Irvin, who stole the spotlight by pulling another no-show at a team minicamp.
Irvin's continued absence is starting to irk some of his teammates.
``It's discouraging, no question about that,'' quarterback Troy Aikman said when Irvin didn't appear for a mandatory quarterback school.
``It comes down to whether he wants to play for us or he doesn't. If he wants to, we want him to start working with us. If he doesn't want to play, we want to know that too so we can go in another direction.''
Irvin, the Cowboys' career leader in catches and receiving yardage, has given no reason for his absence. He also missed a minicamp last month.
Head coach Barry Switzer said he was told by team owner Jerry Jones not to expect Irvin.
``It think it disappoints all of us, but Jerry said not to expect him, so we just go about our business,'' Switzer said.
Jones acknowledged Monday that Irvin has asked to be traded, but the Cowboys owner' insisted that can't and won't happen and said he's confident Irvin will be at training camp next month.
The Cowboys will at least have Miller, released earlier Monday by the Denver Broncos for salary cap reasons. Terms of his deal with Dallas were not disclosed.
Miller will serve as the deep threat Dallas missed last season when it finished 24th in the NFL in total offense.
``I'm definitely excited,'' Miller said. ``You won't see too many dual receivers in the league like me and him (Irvin). This was my first choice. This is a team that has a chance to get to the top.''
Miller had 56 catches for 735 yards and three touchdowns for the Broncos last season. He's had five 1,000-yard receiving seasons.
Aikman's mood brightened at the idea of throwing to Miller. Irvin had 64 receptions last season, but the Cowboys got only 89 catches from their other wide receivers.
``He's a guy who gives us a tremendous deep threat, something we have not had,'' Aikman said. ``He's a guy who's proven what he can do in this league.''
But most of the locker room buzz Monday surrounded Irvin, whose problems have marred team morale since he face drug charges and a resulting five-game NFL suspension last year.
He continues to put in community service time linked to his sentence of four years of adjudicated probation for pleading no-contest to felony cocaine possession.
Irvin has told friends he is tired of the public scrutiny in Dallas and would prefer to play elsewhere, but the Cowboys would take a major salary cap hit if they were to trade the five-time Pro Bowl receiver.
``I'm not the brightest guy in the world, but I do realize that won't happen,'' Aikman said. ``He won't get traded just like I won't or Emmitt (Smith) won't or some other guys won't. It's not going to happen.''
Smith said he understood why Irvin might want to leave, given the negative attention he's received regarding his brushes with the law.
``And I've heard some rumors of some things that have been going on that I found very apalling,'' Smith said. ``With that in mind, if the rumors are true, then I can understand where he's coming from.''
Also Monday, the Cowboys released 39-year-old center Ray Donaldson for salary cap purposes. Switzer said he would not rule out Donaldson being re-signed by the Cowboys, but not at the $800,000 he was scheduled to make this season. Donaldson balked at the team's request that he take a pay cut.
Clay Shiver and John Flannery are expected to contend for the starting center job.
Dallas also announced the re-signing of two veteran free agents _ running back Herschel Walker and safety Bill Bates _ to one-year contracts. Walker and Bates were both key members of the Cowboys special teams last season. Walker will be entering his 12th NFL season; Bates will be playing his 15th and what he has said will be his final season.