Irvin keeps mum over future

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Michael Irvin is being uncharacteristically quiet about his football future.

Michael Irvin is being uncharacteristically quiet about his football future.

Rumours persist that the star receiver, sidelined by a neck injury five weeks ago, has caught his last pass. Irvin is not saying, and the Dallas Cowboys are not asking.

Over 12 seasons, Irvin established himself as the greatest receiver in Cowboys history and one of the NFL's best ever. His final catch was the 750th of his career, tying him for No 9 in league history.

Team owner Jerry Jones and coach Chan Gailey each spoke with Irvin this past Sunday, but neither pressed him to decide when or if he plans to return. They did not even ask when he plans to decide.

"I sat down with him and had a very serious discussion about where he is," Gailey said on Tuesday. "Nothing definitive came out of his head into the ground following a catch 10 October in Philadelphia.

Tests revealed that he sustained a herniated disc, but they also detected that Irvin was born with a narrow spinal cord. That genetic condition has become his primary concern because it puts him at a much higher risk of serious injury if he takes another blow to the head or neck.

Irvin has known about the genetic condition since shortly after the injury. It was not made public until Jones revealed it two weeks ago.

Irvin has not spoken publicly since then.

Now he must decide whether to retire, return this season or postpone a decision until next season. The only problem with waiting is that he will be a free agent, but the Cowboys would almost surely give him a chance to continue his career.

If Irvin is going to sit out the remaining seven games, the Cowboys (5-4) would be best off putting him on injured reserve to free a spot on their 53-man roster. They could use the room to add defensive backs to help supplement a tattered crew.