The Dope Bowl

Lawyers, goons, money--and some very curious sex toys. Laura Miller does the post-game analysis of the Michael Irvin trial.

Griffin would have planted a hidden camera in his hairdo and crashed past the bruiser--hoping to get flattened like so much road kill just so he could go Live at Five with bloody injuries. He would, we are certain, have produced amazing and exclusive footage of Michael Irvin urinating on his brown alligator shoes. (Irvin was, indeed, wearing supremely ugly alligator shoes that day--although, who knows? they may have been fake--and Irvin would surely have urinated on them if he had spied Marty Griffin rushing toward him with the high-tech hairdo and the blood.)

Shipp, though, is a calm, sober, reflective type who wanted to leave for a week-long vacation in Colorado three days hence without having to wear a body cast. So he simply waited in the hallway until Irvin, who was wearing an unmistakable shiny burgundy suit, finished his business. At which time Bruiser Man went at-ease and escorted Irvin back to the courtroom, allowing the men's room, built by the taxpayers for the enjoyment and relief of the masses, to return to its normally nonprivileged status.

"I knew who he was," Shipp later said of the mystery guard, who refused to give reporters his name that morning and then subsequently--and mysteriously--disappeared from the courthouse altogether. "Some little personal goon of Irvin's."

Well, gee, isn't everybody?

It's no wonder that Michael Irvin seems so severed from reality. Must the entire world fawn over this man? We had to hear about every single person--the mother, the sister, the cute little niece with the hair bow--who flew in to support him in his darkest hour of need. But did we have to maintain a straight face when Troy Aikman made a cameo appearance and planted himself--this strikingly handsome Cro-Magnon man--in the front row of the courtroom, directly behind his pal Irvin, and then insisted that he didn't come "to try to influence the jury in any way"?

Sitting at the trial day in and day out, there was only one consistent reaction from courthouse observers. Was this Irvin guy kidding--not letting people into the public bathrooms; not letting people get on the elevators with him (yes, he did that, too); trying to palm himself off as a quiet family man and a civic savior who, as defense lawyer Royce West put it so gaggingly during opening arguments, has "brought championship football back to Dallas"?

Well, he's also brought back that unmistakable whiff of sheer lunacy--the one we've been missing ever since the New Black Panthers decided to put their guns down long enough to watch the Michael Irvin show.

Of course, it was always a pretty simple story.
In the early morning hours of March 4, well-known party animal Michael Jerome Irvin, a married man with two kids--well, two legitimate ones, anyway--got caught celebrating his 30th birthday in a suburban hotel, a room where police also discovered a couple of cheap-looking broads in halter tops and a plethora of recreational drugs. It was a very tawdry scene for a member of America's Team, but one that could have been dealt with pretty quietly if Irvin had simply publicly apologized, however insincerely, pleaded guilty to the misdemeanor marijuana and felony cocaine charges a Dallas County grand jury slapped him with, and served out his probation--pretty much the guaranteed punishment for a big-time football star with no prior criminal record.

Instead, he did a small variation on that scenario--a no-contest plea vs. a guilty one--and suffered the enormous consequences of forever being labeled a big doper with a big ol' kinky sex life. "He's got to change his lifestyle to live up to the terms of this deal, and I don't believe he can do it," says Kinne. "Based on our investigation in this case, with all the people involved that we have talked to, this isn't a first-time thing; it's not the first time he walked in with a bunch of cocaine. I believe he has a problem, and I don't believe he's confronted the problem or admitted he has one.

"It's going to be like Roy Tarpley," Kinne adds, referring to the former Dallas Maverick star. "We tried to rehabilitate him, turn his life around, and apparently he didn't want to. I feel Michael Irvin is cut from the same cloth."

There are good-size hints to that effect already, starting with Irvin's decision to dazzle us with his intellectual brilliance by wearing a floor-length mink coat and his Mack Daddy sunglasses to his grand-jury proceeding. Irvin felt more than confident--one of his attorneys told me--that he would not get indicted. He felt this, in part, because he had been Teflon at the courthouse before that: He had coasted through a Dallas County District Attorney's office investigation of fraudulent American Airline tickets that various Cowboys had been buying, and he'd also been able to keep his distance from the Erik Williams alleged rape incident that the Collin County district attorney most ardently wanted Irvin to testify about.

But Irvin was indicted. So he and attorney Kevin Clancy went to the district attorney's office--long before the trial ever started--and tried to make a deal. Irvin would plead guilty to the misdemeanor marijuana charge--if prosecutors dropped the felony cocaine charge.

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