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Jayson Hron: Finding the balance between ego and excellence

I detest athletes who talk trash, showboat, and try to draw unnecessary attention to themselves with theatrical flare. That being said, I would also contend that a fair amount of arrogance is a vital ingredient on a winning team.

I detest athletes who talk trash, showboat, and try to draw unnecessary attention to themselves with theatrical flare. That being said, I would also contend that a fair amount of arrogance is a vital ingredient on a winning team.
The Dallas Cowboys' all-time leading receiver Michael Irvin retired on Tuesday, following a somber injury which revealed that "The Playmaker" had a fragile spine, more susceptible to paralysis than others.
ESPN reported that when Irvin first flew into Dallas following his stint at the University of Miami, he was interviewed by Drew Pearson, who concluded the meeting by asking Irvin if he knew who the Cowboys' all-time leading receiver was.
Irvin, not knowing that the answer was the man standing before him, answered the question the only way he could. He admitted that he did not know, but that "I know who it better be in six or seven years."
It was classic Irvin. The outstanding wideout would eventually become most well known for three things: his work ethic, his arrogance and his championship rings.
Arrogance can be the missing link that lifts a team to new heights, or it can be the locker room cancer that destroys a team.
Irvin's was the former.
In light of his retirement announcement, his teammates, including the workman-like Daryl Johnston, recalled their favorite stories about playing alongside Irvin. Without fail, each of them mentioned his heart, his work ethic and his desire. No one wanted to win more, they said.
Not one of his teammates criticized his arrogant spirit. Maybe because his performance and his efforts were as inflated as his ego.
He was not gifted with great speed or natural ability. He was a self-made player, who became a champion with his teammates. With five Pro Bowls and three Super Bowl rings to his credit, he had earned the right to be cocky.
The effect he had on his Dallas team was particularly intriguing.
During my baseball career, the bulk of which has been played at the hot corner, I've had the opportunity to play alongside several shortstops.
One of them will always rate as the best with whom I've ever played. He was also the most arrogant player I've ever known. But when he took the field, his combination of arrogance and skill made us all better. It made us all more confident. His belief in himself was contagious.
Irvin's effect on the Cowboys was similar, I'm sure. When Troy Aikman dropped into the pocket, and threw a pass into double-coverage, he believed that Irvin would come down with the ball. He believed, because Irvin knew.
Nuggets
* University of Wisconsin forward Dany Heatley, the NHL's number two draft choice overall, decided during a vist to Atlanta that he would rather return to college than play with the Atlanta Thrashers this season.
* It was announced this week that Ely will once again host a Legion baseball regional tournament.
The decision, announced Wednesday, will bring teams from all over the Upper Midwest to Veteran's Memorial Field beginning Aug. 10.
Jayson Hron is the sports editor for the
Budgeteer News. He can be reached by e-mail at jayson.hron@duluth.com or by phone at 723-1207.

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