Back problems hampered Rivera's stint with Cowboys

Updated: June 7, 2007, 5:55 PM ET
Associated Press

Marco Rivera
Rivera

IRVING, Texas -- Three-time Pro Bowl guard Marco Rivera was released Thursday after two seasons and two back operations while with the Dallas Cowboys.

Rivera initially injured his back while running on a treadmill in March 2005, only a week after signing his $20 million, five-year free agent deal. He had surgery to repair a bulging disc in his lower back, but still started the first 14 games in 2005 before being sidelined by a strained neck.

Last season, Rivera started all 16 regular season games before hurting his back again in the wildcard playoff loss at Seattle and had surgery to repair a herniated disc.

When Rivera signed with the Cowboys, he was coming off his third consecutive Pro Bowl season while blocking for Brett Favre in Green Bay. Rivera played in 106 consecutive games for the Packers, including seven playoff games, from 1998-2004.

Rivera was a sixth-round draft pick out of Penn State in 1996 but was inactive for every game that season when Green Bay won the Super Bowl. He spent the next season primarily on special teams before becoming a starter late in the 1998 season.

After getting hurt in 2005, Rivera offered to tear up his Cowboys contract and return his $9 million signing bonus.

The Cowboys were already prepared for Rivera's departure, having signed another big-money free agent this spring.

Leonard Davis signed a seven-year contract worth nearly $50 million with the Cowboys that included a $16 million signing bonus. The 6-foot-6, 372-pound Davis spent the first six seasons of his career in Arizona after being the No. 2 overall pick out of Texas in 2001.

Without Rivera, Davis will almost certainly play right guard instead of tackle for the Cowboys. Dallas had already re-signed right tackle Marc Colombo and has Pro Bowler Flozell Adams at left tackle.


Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press