From celebrated sports writer Jeff Pearlman, author of The Bad Guys Won, a rollicking, completely unabashed account of the glory days of the legendary Dallas Cowboys
They were called America's Team. Led by Emmitt Smith, the charismatic Deion "Prime Time" Sanders, Hall of Famers Troy Aikman and Michael Irvin—and lorded over by swashbuckling, power-hungry owner Jerry Jones and his two hard-living coaches, Jimmy Johnson and Barry Switzer—the Cowboys seemed indomitable on the football field throughout the 1990s. Off the field the 'Boys were a dysfunctional circus, fueled by ego, sex, drugs, and jaw-dropping excess. What they achieved on game day was astonishing; what they did the rest of the week was unbelievable.
Boys Will Be Boys is the story of the Dallas Cowboys in their prime—a team of wild-partying, out-of-control glory-hounds that won three Super Bowls in four years and earned their rightful place in sports lore as the most beloved and despised dynasty in NFL history.
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Boys Will Be Boys
The Glory Days and Party Nights of the Dallas Cowboys Dynasty
Scissors to the Neck
You can do a lot of things in life. You can't stab a teammate with a pair of scissors.
—Kevin Smith, Cowboys cornerback
Michael Irvin knew he was screwed.
There, dangling in his right hand, was a pair of silver scissors, bits of shredded brown skin coating the tips. There, clutching his own throat, was Everett McIver, a 6-foot, 5-inch, 318-pound hulk of a man, blood oozing from the 2-inch gash in his neck. There, standing to the side, were teammates Erik Williams, Leon Lett, and Kevin Smith, slack-jawed at what they had just seen.
It was finally over. Everything was over. The Super Bowls. The Pro Bowls. The endorsements. The adulation. The dynasty.
The greatest wide receiver in the history of the Dallas Cowboys—a man who had won three Super Bowls; who had appeared in five Pro Bowls; whose dazzling play and sparkling personality had earned him a devoted legion of followers—knew he would be going to prison for a long time. Two years if he was lucky. Twenty years, maximum.
Was this the first time Irvin had exercised mind-numbing judgment? Hardly. Throughout his life, the man known as The Playmaker had made a hobby of breaking the rules. As a freshman at the University of Miami fourteen years earlier, Irvin had popped a senior lineman in the head after he had stepped in front of him in a cafeteria line. In 1991, Irvin allegedly shattered the dental plate and split the lower lip of a referee whose call hedisagreed with in a charity basketball game. Twice, in 1990 and '95, Irvin had been sued by women who insisted he had fathered their children out of wedlock. In May 1993, Irvin was confronted by police after launching into a tirade when a convenience store clerk refused to sell his eighteen-year-old brother, Derrick, a bottle of wine. When Gene Upshaw visited Dallas minicamp that same month to explain an unpopular contractual agreement, Irvin greeted the NFL union chief first by screaming obscenities, then by pulling down his pants and flashing his exposed derriere.fnbjgnbgjnbgjnbgjgjgjgnjgjgjjggj
Most famously, there was the incident in a Dallas hotel room on March 4, 1996—one day before Irvin's thirtieth birthday—when police found The Playmaker and former teammate Alfredo Roberts with two strippers, 10.3 grams of cocaine, more than an ounce of marijuana, and assorted drug paraphernalia and sex toys. Irvin—who greeted one of the on-scene officers with, "Hey, can I tell you who I am?"—later pleaded no contest to a felony drug charge and received a five-game suspension, eight hundred hours of community service, and four years' probation.
But stabbing McIver in the neck, well, this was different. Through the litany of his boneheaded acts, Irvin had never—not once—deliberately hurt a teammate. Did he love snorting coke? Yes. Did he love lesbian sex shows? Yes. Did he love sleeping with two, three, four, five (yes, five) women at a time in precisely choreographed orgies? Yes. Did he love strip clubs and hookers and house calls from exotic dancers with names like Bambi and Cherry and Saucy? Yes, yes, yes.
Was he loyal to his football team? Undeniably.
Throughout the Cowboy reign of the 1990s, which started with a laughable 115 season in 1989 and resulted in three Super Bowl victories in four years, no one served as a better teammate—as a better role model—than Michael Irvin. He was first to the practice field in the morning, the last to leave at night. He wore weighted pads atop his shoulders to build muscle and refused to depart the complex before catching fifty straight passes without a drop. Twelve years after the fact, an undrafted free agent quarterback named Scott Semptimphelter still recalls Irvin begging him to throw slants following practice on a 100-degree day in 1995. "In the middle of the workout Mike literally threw up on himself as he ran a route," says Semptimphelter. "Most guys would put their hands on their knees, say screw this, and call it a day. Not Michael. He got back to the spot, ran another route, and caught the ball."
That was Irvin. Determined. Driven. A 100-mph car on a 50-mph track. Chunks of vomit dripping from his jersey.
Following the lead of their star wide receiver, Cowboy players and coaches outpracticed, outhustled, out-everythinged every other team in the National Football League. Sure, the Cowboys of the 1990s were bursting with talent—from quarterback Troy Aikman and running back Emmitt Smith to defensive backs Deion Sanders and Darren Woodson—but it was an unrivaled intensity that made Dallas special. During drills, Irvin would see a teammate slack off and angrily lecture, "Don't be a fuckin' pussy! Be a fuckin' soldier! Be my soldier!" He would challenge defensive backs to rise to the highest level. "Bitch, cover me!" he'd taunt Sanders or Kevin Smith. "C'mon, bitch! C'mon, bitch! C'mon!" When the play ended he'd offer a quick pat on the rear. "Nice job, brother. Now do it again." Irvin was the No. 1 reason the Cowboys won Super Bowls in 1992, '93, and '95, and everybody on the team knew it. "The man just never stopped," says Hubbard Alexander, the Dallas wide receivers coach. "He was only about winning."
And yet, there Michael Irvin stood on July 29, 1998, staring down at a new low. The scissors. The skin. The blood. The gagging teammate. That morning a Dallas-based barber named Vinny had made the two-and-a-half-hour drive to Midwestern State University in Wichita Falls, Texas, where the team held its training camp. He set up a chair inside a first-floor room in the Cowboys' dormitory, broke out the scissors and buzzers, and chopped away, one refrigerator-sized head after another.
After a defensive back named Charlie Williams finished receiving his cut, McIver jumped into the chair. It was his turn.
Although only the most die-hard of Dallas Cowboy fans had heard of him, Everett McIver was no rookie. Not in football, and certainly not in life.Boys Will Be Boys
The Glory Days and Party Nights of the Dallas Cowboys Dynasty. Copyright © by Jeff Pearlman. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.
Table of Contents
Chapter 1 Scissors to the Neck 1
Chapter 2 Save Your Gas 8
Chapter 3 The Right Man 28
Chapter 4 The Asthma Field 39
Chapter 5 Henryetta Troy 50
Chapter 6 Would the Mother Who Left Her 11 Kids at Texas Stadium Please Come and Get Them! 58
Chapter 7 Welcome to the Emmitt Zone 76
Chapter 8 Making a Run at This Thing 93
Chapter 9 The Last Naked Warrior 111
Chapter 10 Return to Greatness 122
Chapter 11 Turbulence 138
Chapter 12 How 'Bout Them Cowboys! 153
Chapter 13 Super Bowl XXVII (aka: Don't Kiss Julie Brown!) 164
Chapter 14 Nut-Huggers 180
Chapter 15 Good Time? Let's Meet @ 12 197
Chapter 16 Courage 213
Chapter 17 Super Bowl XXVIII (aka: We Want the Ball! We Want the Ball! We Want the Ball!) 223
Chapter 18 Divorce 233
Chapter 19 Anal Probe 245
Chapter 20 Walking into a Buzz Saw 256
Chapter 21 Anarchy on (and off) the Gridiron 268
Chapter 22 Prime Time 288
Chapter 23 The White House 302
Chapter 24 Super Bowl XXX (aka: Attack of the Skanks) 323
Chapter 25 The Fall 339
Chapter 26 Rebirth 355
What People are Saying About This
"Jeff Pearlman has written a rip-roaring book filled with terrific reporting and vibrant prose.... It's a flat-out winner." -Jonathan Eig, New York Times bestselling author of Opening Day