It's a hard road to the NFL. No matter how much talent you have and how much work you put in, nobody makes it to the big leagues easily.
David Irving certainly had his share of challenges getting to the big leagues. It's no easy task coming out of one of the west coast's most notorious cities. The 23-year-old defensive end from Compton had all the physical talent required to be an NFL-caliber athlete, but that didn't make his journey much easier. In fact, in some way's he's still struggling.
Irving will be suspended for the first four games of this season due to violating the league's performance-enhancing drugs policy after his appeal was denied.
He was ejected from a game last season, a 35-10 thumping of the Browns, for unnecessary roughness. He was dusting it up after the play with Browns center Cam Erving in the first quarter.
Irving got into the NFL as an undrafted free agent signed by the Kansas City Chiefs after the 2015 NFL Draft. He was waived on September 5th and signed to the practice squad before the Cowboys scooped him up on September 29 as a replacement for Davon Coleman.
Dallas resigned Irving to a 1 year, $615,000 contract, with an average annual salary of $615,000 and a cap hit of $470,294 for the 2017 season.
He has played 27 games in two seasons, making 30 combined tackles, 4.5 sacks, defended 6 passes, and has forced 4 fumbles. Irving is undoubtedly a good fit for the Cowboys as one of their best pass rushers.
He'll be playing to continue his career once he's allowed back on the field. He's no stranger to this kind of situation, and he's risen to the occasion in the past.
Irving laid out his story for Dallasnews.com, touching on his dismissal from college, his return to Compton, and the drive that carried him to the Cowboys:
"It was a Tuesday night, Iowa State ... I was in jail. I got out a couple of days later. When I got out, coach (Paul) Rhoades, the first person I talked to, said I was off the team. Expected. I had my daughter living with me, my girlfriend at the time living with me. No scholarship means no rent either. I finished up my semester with like a 3.5. I took my last Pell Grant installment, instead of paying rent or anything else, I had to pack what I could in my 1996 SS Impala and drive it back to California.
"After we got home, I didn't really have a place to stay. I couldn't stay with my mom, things were bad. Couldn't go to LA, my dad was in LA. I'm from Compton, so I didn't want to go back out there and get involved with that.
"When I was growing up, it was safe I felt like in our area [of Compton]. My grandma lived there; my mom grew up there. We knew everybody in our area. My boundaries was a block. My parents were very protective. But after I got into middle school, we started getting drive-bys in our area. Dead bodies around the corner. The day after I graduated middle school, we packed up and drove two hours east to San Jacinto.
"There would be times where I was in my car, couch here, friend's house there. After a while, I had to do something. I applied for every job in San Jacinto. Wound up getting a Home Depot job. I had like six trucks myself, overnight shift, first time doing it. Forty degrees in the truck; 90 degrees in the warehouse. I ended up getting real sick. Quit the next day. That's when I realized I can't do this and trained up. God blessed me with the opportunity to be where I am now. It's crazy to be able to be here talking to you guys right now.
"Once I got kicked out, I had a totally different vision. I wasn't even looking at football. Now, I'm here; my daughter's happy; I'm doing well for myself."
Irving has come a long way from a hard place, and isn't the kind of guy who gives up easily. This won't be the first time he's going to have to prove himself, but so far when push has come to shove, Irving has stepped up to the occasion. If he does, he could be a major part of the Cowboys' success.
Source: SportsDayDFW.com · Photo Credit: KEYSTONE PRESS