FRISCO — A devastating series of events was set into motion last week that delayed David Irving’s return and complicates his ability to contribute to the Cowboys going forward.
The custody battle over Irving’s daughter, Zoe, is at the center of the turmoil. The 5-year-old was removed from the player’s care Friday during a confusing and contentious scene at the girl’s kindergarten and placed with her mother, Angela Sanchez. A judge is scheduled to hear the custody case in a Collin County court at 9 a.m. Wednesday.
One hour later that same day, Irving faces another hearing in Collin County court regarding the recent eviction from his residence.
The dysfunctional road Irving and his former girlfriend find themselves traveling doesn’t stop there. Sanchez had Irving served with a temporary restraining order to start the week on Oct. 1. His response to the female processor upon receiving the papers has led the Dallas Police Department to open an investigation into whether the 6-7, 290-pound defensive tackle should be charged with “offensive touching,” a Class C misdemeanor.
Three days later, there was a dispute over the ownership of a Dodge Charger that Sanchez was driving. The episode at the Plano ISD kindergarten took place the next day.
All of this explains why Irving, after returning to practice last Wednesday for the first time in nearly 11 months, abruptly missed the next two days. It explains why he didn’t make the trip to Houston on Saturday, even though owner Jerry Jones declared that Irving would play against the Texans, and why he wasn’t at The Star this Tuesday or Wednesday to practice with his teammates.
None of this takes into account the sobriety issues Irving wrestles with as he returns from a four-game suspension from the NFL for testing positive for marijuana.
Irving could not be reached for comment for this story and has not been made available for comment by the team this season. His attorney, Daniel Moskowitz, declined to comment when reached Wednesday.
Sanchez acknowledges the on-again, off-again relationship she has shared with Irving for the last seven years. She wants full custody, something Irving was granted in May, and the ability to take her daughter back to her home in California.
Those aware of the relationship believe if the judge reaches that conclusion, it would cripple Irving. But Sanchez also said she believes Zoe needs a father in her life and wants to ensure Irving can still see her.
“I care about him deeply and I love him, and I think I always will,” Sanchez said. “I wish we could be friends and co-parent on some level. I hate that we’re fighting.
“Our relationship is toxic. We can’t be together. He wants to be evil to me.”
A knock on the door
According to multiple sources, Irving’s emotional week started on the evening of Monday, Oct. 1, with a knock at his door in Dallas.
A processor was there to serve Irving a temporary restraining order that was filed by Sanchez, who was waiting in her parked car with the hopes of taking back custody of their daughter.
Instead, Irving reacted angrily and aggressively toward the processor. He began to yell at her and wave the paperwork near her before ripping up the documents. Irving also allegedly made contact with the processor using the documents.
Dallas police officers responded to the scene at about 6:11 p.m. for a “disturbance call,” according to a police statement.
“Preliminary information suggested that the suspect became upset with the victim who delivered documents to the location,” according to the statement. “It is alleged that the suspect intentionally made offensive contact with the victim using the documents. There were no reported injuries. This incident is currently being reviewed by detectives.”
Dallas police are investigating whether they have enough evidence to charge Irving with the misdemeanor of “offensive touching.”
On Tuesday, Oct. 2, Irving’s landlord filed for eviction in a Collin County court. A citation for eviction was issued the following day.
Irving practiced Wednesday, Oct. 3, at The Star for the first time since last November.
On Thursday, Oct. 4, Irving didn’t return to The Star for work while trying to resolve a dispute over the ownership of a blue 2016 Dodge Charger that was purchased by Irving, according to multiple sources.
Sanchez said the car was a gift from Irving a few years ago and that she’s been in possession of it the last few weeks. During that time, Irving has threatened to call police and report the vehicle stolen, she said.
On Friday, Irving again didn’t show up to practice at The Star.
Multiple sources said Sanchez went that afternoon to the Plano ISD elementary school that Zoe attends to pick her up.
Sanchez said she presented paperwork showing that a temporary restraining order was in place against Irving and that she now has custody.
But the school didn’t immediately release Zoe to Sanchez. She said someone at the school contacted Irving, who showed up while Sanchez was there.
The ordeal took about 30 minutes to resolve, she said, before school officials finally released Zoe to her. Zoe has been with her mother since Friday.
Irving’s relationship with Sanchez has long been combative.
As part of the Frisco police reports on the incident, the same 2016 Dodge Charger came into play. Irving advised Frisco police officers, according to the report, that he had slashed all four tires of the car “so that she could not drive the vehicle away from the location.”
Frisco police investigated Irving over allegations involving assault with bodily injury, assault by impeding breath and unlawful restraint but closed the case shortly afterward without filing charges.
The NFL, however, can suspend players over domestic violence allegations without charges filed. However, Irving has never been disciplined by the league for the allegations and isn’t expected to receive punishment.
Sanchez said a female from the NFL Players Association contacted her via text in April but Sanchez said she never replied.
Sanchez also accused Irving of domestic abuse causing injury in November 2013 in Iowa after police were called to an apartment for a welfare check. He was suspended indefinitely from the Iowa State football team and missed a game against Oklahoma before being reinstated. That charge was dropped in January 2014.
Irving missed the Cowboys’ offseason practices because he was out of shape and working to take sole custody of Zoe. He didn’t report to training camp in Oxnard, Calif., with the team in late July. Irving never practiced with the Cowboys in training camp while going through substance abuse rehabilitation in Los Angeles. During that time, he also worked out at a gym owned by Fox NFL analyst Jay Glazer.
Cowboys owner Jerry Jones said Irving’s training camp absences were a mutual agreement between the two.
The Cowboys have been patient with Irving, with coach Jason Garrett saying he’s been given excused absences to get his life in order during his recent missed practices.
The Cowboys anticipate Irving returning to practice Thursday. But his off-the-field distractions won’t soon go away with a custody hearing scheduled for Wednesday in McKinney that will keep him out of practice again.
The Cowboys believe Irving can help improve an already strong defensive line when he returns to the field. Irving finished second on the team last season with seven sacks in only eight games.
Irving signed a second-round tender as a restricted free agent in the offseason that is paying him $2.91 million. He’ll be an unrestricted free agent in the offseason.
While the organization and Irving’s teammates remain supportive, defensive lineman Tyrone Crawford said Wednesday that Irving needs to practice.
“He’s got to show up,” Crawford said. “He’s got to show up to practice to play. He knows that. We know that. It’s obvious you have to know what we’re doing during the week. I feel like when he comes in he’ll get everything he needs to know to get out there on Sunday.
“The issues that are going on with David are things that have to be handled, and that’s what he’s doing. He’s handling that. I don’t fault the man for handling what he has to handle as a man.”
Staff writer Jori Epstein contributed to this report.
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