Cowboys' RB coach: Ezekiel Elliott facing heavy workload in 2018
After what Dallas Cowboys defensive tackle David Irving has dealt with this offseason he is looking forward to a quiet uneventful Father’s Day on Sunday.
“I've been through a lot,” Irving said. “I've seen the light at the end of the tunnel. I got my daughter. It's just me and her. That means it's no stress really. Have a good relaxing day with the person that loves me the most, the person I love the most. It’s going to be good.”
Depending on whom you ask, Irving is due some good days.
He was back at minicamp this week after being absent through OTAs and the offseason program dealing with a myriad of personal issues, including false domestic violence allegations by his ex-girlfriend and child’s mother, breaking up with her and becoming sole caretaker of his 5-year-old daughter, Zoe, among other things.
It has brought about a change in Irving’s life and lifestyle. His brother has moved in with him for the summer, but Irving says he has no one else.
“It was a change in my life,” Irving said. “I had to change a lot, you know…There's more to my life than just football. I'm actually a real person. I have family issues, a lot of issues I've been dealing with. I can't go into much detail...just know it's behind me. By the time the season starts I won’t be dealing with any of this BS anymore.”
He acknowledges he didn’t handle everything well and correctly.
His absence drew the ire of some coaches and some teammates.
Linebacker Sean Lee made a point to let Irving know he needed to be with his teammates.
“Me and Sean Lee had our talks, too,” Irving said. "I respect him. Great guy, great teammate. And I do need to have my ass up here more."
But he also says that much of his absence was out of his hands and that the Cowboys knew what he was dealing with and going through. He acknowledged as much in an Instagram post last week.
“If I could've come I would've, but I couldn't for certain days so I didn't,” Irving said. “It has nothing to do with me being out of shape. The media or coaches even put it out there. But the real reason is really none of the public's business right now.”
Irving has continually heard questions about his focus and commitment, which is one of the reasons the Cowboys decided to give him the second-round restricted free agent tender of $2.91 million, chancing him to be poached in free agency.
This was after a 2017 season in which he was fined $40,000 at the start of training camp for not being on the team plane, missing the first four games under NFL suspension and the last four because of a concussion.
In between, he recorded seven sacks in eight games, displaying the enormous potential that could make him the most coveted tackle in the free agent market in 2018.
“To me that's impossible,” Irving said of the notion of focusing 100 percent on football all the time. “I do have a daughter and other things to deal with. There's a balance to everything. Everyone questions my commitment. When I'm on the field, I don't really get too much questioning.”
Irving promises everything is behind him and he will be ready for training camp. He will use the next few weeks to get in better shape, dropping his weight from 303 to 285 and hopefully getting his abs back.
“I feel like I'm getting it all together,” Irving said. “I knew I should have done some things differently this offseason. Moving through it, I'm feeling much better and getting a lot of stuff handled.”
The biggest thing that has gotten handled is to break off things with ex-girlfriend Angela Sanchez, a high school sweetheart who also accused Irving of domestic violence when he was in college at Iowa State, only to drop those charges later.
Likewise, the Frisco police department has ended a recent investigation of him after Sanchez recanted allegations of domestic violence.
Irving said he is not worried about an NFL investigation.
“I'm not worried about anything domestic,” Irving said. “She's a joke. It's been that way for years. I tried to stay with her because we were high school sweethearts and we had a kid together.
“I've been with this girl since high school. I always thought she'd get better but she got worse. No court stuff. It's not a case.”
The breakup, however, brought unforeseen complications for Irving when he was given sole custody of his daughter.
He no longer had help from Sanchez. He had help from no one. It has brought a change in his life that, once he gets a routine down, he hopes will allow him to succeed on and off the field.
"I'm all she's got pretty much,” Irving said. “Now full custody, she's with me only. You always think you have to do this for your family, but not it's a difference. I don't have time to be messing around and getting in trouble like I have been."
That would be the best of all outcomes.