Michael Irvin is a member of the media these days, but he’s not one for journalistic impartiality. The Hall of Fame wide receiver played his entire career for the Cowboys, and he still roots for his old squad.
However, Irvin’s value as a commentator is that he calls it like he sees it, and what he’s calling for now is a Cowboys loss, preferably as soon as possible. As in, on Thursday, in Dallas’s Thanksgiving showdown with the archrival Redskins, a game with more than on the line than in any recent meeting.
“Instead of a win, I’m really looking for a loss [on Thursday],” Irvin told a Dallas radio station (via The Dallas Morning News).
What in the name of Jerry Jones is going on here? Well, Irvin has an explanation, and it involves his greater hopes for the Cowboys.
“I need a loss in here on the way to the playoffs. To re-identify, refocus,” he said. “I’m not saying they are not focused in everything — but I wouldn’t have an issue with a loss and a re-shake. You want to handle this kind of adversity and get refocused. I don’t want to go into the playoffs without that. Because then when you win nine, 10, 12 games you almost forget how bad it feels to lose.”
It is true that it has been a long time since the Cowboys felt the sting of defeat. In fact, since dropping its opener, the team has reeled off nine straight wins, a single-season franchise record. Even Irvin’s Super Bowl-winning squads of the 1990s never accomplished such a feat, not to mention Dallas’s perennial contenders in earlier decades.
“You search yourself less in victory,” Irvin continued. “We search ourselves deeply in defeat, because it hurts so much we want to make sure it never happens again. Victory, I look at with an overarching eye: Whatever happened, it worked. I want a searching of ourselves one time before the playoffs. 14-2 is a great record.”
Irvin is right about that last part, and Cowboys fans, if asked whether they would accept a 14-2 finish after the 9-1 start, would surely eagerly agree. But they might quibble with the timing, given that, even with the hot start, Dallas hasn’t completely pulled away from its NFC East rivals. If the Redskins win on Thursday, they would be just one and a half games back, and the Giants, who handed the Cowboys that Week 1 loss, are two games back. Even the Eagles, at 5-5, are hanging around, and they, like the Giants, will get another shot at Dallas.
So Irvin has to be the only ‘Boys-backer hoping the team actually loses on Thursday, especially given the opponent and the date. But make no mistake, he has what he thinks are the team’s best interests at heart and, in fact, he envisions this year’s squad reaching great heights.
In fielding a question posed by the station about Dallas’s rookie sensation, Ezekiel Elliott, possibly hitting a “wall” from playing in more games than he’s used to, Irvin had this to say: “Nobody playing this well that’s on the run for MVP thinks about a wall.”
He added, “This is the sky for Zeke. To come in his first year and take the Dallas Cowboys to a 9-1 record and possibly the Super Bowl with the MVP? Shut up talking about a wall.”
So, yeah, Irvin is thinking that the Cowboys are in good position to take home the NFL’s biggest team and individual prizes. But first, a sizable dose of humility is apparently required, and Redskins fans can certainly get on board with that part of the equation.