Galloway just wants to be Galloway, not Irvin

Monday, July 24th 2000, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

WICHITA FALLS - He stands at least three inches shorter. Weighs at least 20 pounds lighter. Can't be heard making a peep on the field. Spends his lunch hour eating take-out in the quiet of his dorm room before a TV tuned to Young and the Restless .

In short, Joey Galloway is not Michael Irvin.

And contrary to popular belief, the All-Pro alternate, whom the Cowboys acquired from Seattle to replace their retired All-Pro Irvin, won't even play Irvin come Sunday afternoons this fall. He can't be like Mike.

Being physical is not Galloway's forte. Flying is. Up field. Across field. Around would-be defenders as if they were lamp posts.

Galloway was so fast during the first week of training camp, in fact, that Troy Aikman struggled early on to get him the ball. Aikman would spot No. 84 in the clear. He would let loose. But by the time the ball got to where Aikman thought Galloway would be, Galloway had been there and gone. Aikman looked like Wile E. Coyote trying to nail the Roadrunner.

"Everything changes subtly when you have that kind of speed," Aikman said. "The angle of the throws are different. Where you have to lay the ball becomes different."

The reason is because of what Joey Galloway is for the Cowboys. He isn't 6-2 and 210 pounds. He isn't old No. 88. He shouldn't be expected to run Irvin's patented slant.

Galloway is different.

Galloway is something the Cowboys haven't had in their lead wide out since the days of Bullet Bob Hayes. He's a speedster with hands.

"With Galloway's speed," said the Cowboys new receivers coach, Wes Chandler, "he can take a five-yard hitch and go the distance."

The trick for the Cowboys' offensive coordinator Jack Reilly and old offensive guru Ernie Zampese, who is back as a security pillow for Aikman, is to get Galloway the ball so that he can turn nothing into something. And despite that Galloway could be the fastest player in the league, getting him the ball won't be so easy, as Aikman's early experiments proved.

For one thing, getting Galloway the ball will often require Aikman to be best at what long has been considered the weakest part of his game, throwing deep. It was said he wasn't great at doing so in his prime. Now, he will have to find a way to do so as a graybeard under center. On the face of it, the prospect doesn't look good.

Maybe as a result, the Cowboys looked last week to be practicing other ways to get Galloway the ball in the open field. Timing routes. Quick throws.

"I'm more concerned about working on his abilities underneath," Chandler said of Galloway.

Chandler talked about dragging Galloway across the middle in front of defenders. At least once on such a play, one referee was overheard pointing out to another referee that a defender was picked off, maybe illegally, by another receiver in order to spring Galloway.

Irvin never needed such assistance, of course. He just shoved defenders away. Often illegally, some would say.

"Michael used his height advantage and his size," Chandler noted. "His size alone made him a playmaker."

The Cowboys, though, better do all they can to exploit Galloway's talents. After all, Jerry Jones spent big money on the little guy, counting two No. 1 draft picks and a $12.5 million signing bonus. Galloway's contract is seven years for $42 million, including that autograph gratuity.

Given that Aikman wanted a return to yesteryear's offensive scheme, Jones could have pursued more vigorously a possession-type of receiver in Irvin's mold, like Mushin Muhammad or Carl Pickens. But, in part because those receivers seemed to be more tightly tethered to their employers at the time, Jones went after and landed Galloway, who was unhappy with the Seahawks and all together different.

Galloway scored 35 touchdowns and averaged over 1,000 yards receiving in his first four seasons mostly the really exciting way. He caught bombs. He even returned a few punts for touchdowns.

All of which goes to prove Joey Galloway could turn out to be like the fellow he's replacing in at least one respect. He could be a playmaker, too, if the coaches and quarterback can just get him the ball.

Related Link: Inside Valley Ranch