``If that's cocky, that's bad,'' he told the cameras and tape recorders.
The words of Emmitt Smith were somehow coming from the mouth of a guy who last season broke NFL records for most bleeps in a news conference.
This Irvin was tactful, diplomatic. And bland.
``I don't know if I'm all the way back,'' Irvin said after tying his career best with 12 catches. ``I still have some improvement.''
On the field, Irvin was irrepressible. Of course, the Dolphins' secondary tends to lift a receiver's spirits. Irvin pantomimed first downs and threw fists in the air, and when it was all but over, Irvin started his stance from one knee.
In addition to his first game against Jimmy Johnson, the man who recruited him to the Miami Hurricanes and drafted him to the Cowboys, this was Irvin's first game in the state of Florida since his college days.
``It was an emotional game for me,'' Irvin said. ``My roots are here.''
Afterward, the team bus that was heading for the team charter waited while Irvin signed autographs. As he dressed after the game, Irvin entertained Miami Heat stars Tim Hardaway and Alonzo Mourning.
There had been no real surprises in the game. Irvin said the Cowboys had expected to see Miami give up the outside, since they know a Jimmy Johnson scheme better than anyone. Irvin didn't even have to be very physical to get open.
In the first quarter, Troy Aikman didn't throw a pass over the middle of the field. On the first Cowboys pass, Irvin burned Dolphins corner Terrell Buckley. Then, spotting all the soft coverage, Aikman kept going to the sidelines, and admitted later that he was surprised the Dolphins stayed with that coverage until the fourth quarter.
As a result, Irvin, who missed the first Eagles game during his five-game NFL drug suspension after being caught in a room with dancers and cocaine, was practically enough offense by himself.
Irvin had 12 catches for 186 yards. The Dolphins had 12 catches for 173 yards.
The schemes will be different, the next opponent will be much more physical, but the Eagles still will have the mere presence of Irvin to deal with when they go to Dallas on Sunday. The Cowboys are themselves again. The first six times they had the ball against Miami, Irvin had at least one catch in each series.
Even more troublesome for future Dallas opponents is what Irvin opens up for everyone else. Deion Sanders has never been more of an offensive option than he was against Miami. Sanders had a catch in each of Dallas' first five possessions. He had two third-down catches. He said he went over to Aikman and told him, ``I appreciate the ball distribution.''
It's when reporters kept asking Irvin whether Sunday's game was some kind of statement to the rest of the league that he felt he had to set the record straight.
``Hey, we're the defending world champions,'' Irvin said. ``We don't have to make any more statements than that.''
Once the Cowboys got down to the red zone and the defense tightened up on Irvin, his production did drop. Aikman completed 11 of 13 passes to Irvin when starting outside the 20-yard line and only 1 of 3 from inside the 20. And that didn't include a misconnection on a two-point conversion try, when Irvin was also called for offensive pass interference. The one completion was for Irvin's first touchdown of the season.
``I'm not trying to make a statement to anybody,'' Irvin said. ``I'm trying to prepare myself for the stretch of games we have. I don't think that at this time in my career I have to make any statements.''
He did make one after he answered his last question.
``God bless you,'' Irvin said as he stepped down from a chair and left the locker room.