Remember that unlikely snag that could have jeopardized the LeRoy Irvin trade, the one that could have prevented the disgruntled Pro Bowl cornerback from becoming an ex-Ram?
Unable to arrange a deal to their liking, the Rams simply decided to retain Irvin, who is unhappy with his contract, and let Tuesday's league-wide trading deadline pass without uttering a peep. Only a day earlier, the Rams had sent Irvin home with his locker room belongings.
"I can't believe it," said Ernie Wright, Irvin's agent. "I'm shocked. It is, without a doubt, a very weird situation."
Irvin was speechless. At least that's what Wright advised Tuesday. He told his client to withhold all comments until the situation is clarified. "But he's very shocked, very disappointed," Wright said.
Imagine Wright's surprise as he spoke with Ram Vice President John Shaw minutes after the 1 p.m. deadline.
The conversation, according to Wright:
Wright: What happened? Where are we?
Shaw: Nothing happened.
Shaw: There was no trade.
Wright: So what do we do?
Shaw: I don't know. I'll talk to (Coach) John Robinson and we'll get back to you in a couple of days.
Recalling the conversation later, Wright said: "Maybe John Shaw has something up his sleeve that I don't know of."
According to Robinson, there are four options up that sleeve:
--Keep Irvin on the inactive list, which is the league's version of football limbo.
--Make up, and play him.
"I'll make a decision relative to the issue," Robinson said. "I think it's a private matter between he and I, first of all, relative to what I've either already decided or will decide on that."
Suspension seems unlikely, as does waiving Irvin. But then again, so did the prospect of the Rams' rejecting all trade offers.
Wright has said he will take legal action if the Rams suspend Irvin. And to waive Irvin seems senseless, he said, since the Rams would receive nothing in return.
That would leave Robinson with a choice between the inactive list, where Irvin has resided since last Saturday, or plea bargaining.
"I think it's a pretty basic issue, in terms of whether a man is willing to work or not," Robinson said. "I think he should fulfill his responsibilities to the team.
"To me, it was just a question of basically refusing to be a member of this team in a very willful manner and at a very crucial time."
Robinson is particularly upset about Irvin's decision to call in sick with the flu last Thursday. The call was interpreted by the Rams as a ploy, a way to force a trade. They were 1-5, preparing to face the division-leading San Francisco 49ers--the Rams lost the game--and a day away from trading Eric Dickerson to the Indianapolis Colts.
In essence, the Rams may be making a statement: They weren't thrilled by any of the trade offers and they weren't pleased with Irvin's public outbursts about his salary.
Irvin signed a contract extension that ends after the 1990 season.
Irvin maintains that he was indeed ill, but the Rams removed him from the active roster, nonetheless. Monday, after a brief meeting with Robinson, Irvin left Rams Park for what he thought was the last time.
Unless he receives instructions to the contrary, Wright said that Irvin will return to the Rams today. To do otherwise, would give the team grounds for suspension.
"It's an embarrassing situation for everyone involved, except John Shaw," Wright said. "He won't be there."
The Rams, according to other team officials, were asking for a first-round draft choice and then some for Irvin, a Pro Bowl selection in each of his last two seasons. At one point, the number of interested teams was in the low teens.
But as the deadline approached, no team seemed willing to part with a No. 1 pick.
Wright said he spent Tuesday morning calling general managers in search of a trade. At one point, he said, the Denver Broncos, New York Jets, Philadelphia Eagles and Raiders were actively pursuing a deal.
"I thought the Rams would end up taking a second- to fourth-round pick," Wright said. "But John Shaw didn't get what he wanted. He wanted a first-round draft choice."
And Irvin didn't get what he wanted, which was a new playing address.
Ram Notes Guard Dennis Harrah said he will receive a cortisone injection in his spine Friday to help alleviate the inflammation caused by a recurring back injury. Harrah underwent tests Monday, and doctors found a rotated disk in his back. "It's a slight bulge, but it's not herniated," Harrah said. "The ligaments that are holding my vertebrae in place are a tad bit shot." Harrah missed Sunday's game against the 49ers because of the injury and is listed as doubtful for this weekend's game against the New Orleans Saints. "(Recovery time) could be anywhere from, at the best, one week. At the worst . . . I'm not sure what the worst would be."
Harrah said surgery isn't planned. Instead, he will begin a muscle-rebuilding program. "I don't feel it's anything real serious," he said. "It just has to be corrected." And if he returns to the lineup? "If it got a little better, I was thinking about going in and renegotiating my contract," he said. "I was going to come out and make Hudson (Houck, offensive line coach) block the (47) Gap, and be on the first bus out of here." . . . Newly acquired running backs Greg Bell and Owen Gill spent much of Tuesday, a day off for the rest of the Rams, trying to learn the Ram offense. . . . Linebacker Kevin Greene's playing status for Sunday has been upgraded to probable. He has a shoulder problem.