ASHBURN, Va. -- At 5 feet 8 3/4 , Darrell Green is never going t have a chance to play against Michael Jordan, but he'd like the opportunity.
"I'd like to see Michael Jordan slam-dunk on me, to say I was there," the Washington Redskins cornerback said yesterday.
Green likes to be there in the middle of things, and that's where he'll be Sunday when the Redskins take on the Dallas Cowboys.
Green will be involved in one of the feature matchups of the game when he takes on wide receiver Michael Irvin of the Cowboys, and he's eager to face the challenge.
"I don't know if the basketball guys who've got to stop Michael Jordan get as excited as I do because it's going to be a long night [for them], but I have the opportunity to take on some of the greatest athletes in the world in a one-on-one situation. I have made my career pretty much doing that. You win some and you lose some. That's my ability, to do it and take my lumps and line up for the next play," he said.
Green took his lumps from Irvin last year. His inability to stop Irvin was one of the major reasons the Redskins failed in their quest for a perfect season.
The Redskins were 11-0 when Irvin caught nine passes for 130 yards and a touchdown -- mainly against Green -- to help the Cowboys hand the Redskins their first loss of the season.
The Redskins' only other loss in their 17-2 Super Bowl season came in the finale against the Philadelphia Eagles.
Irvin also caught five passes in the opener against the Redskins this year, but both Irvin and Green were coming off holdouts.
"Any time someone catches a ball on me, it bothers me," Green said. "I've covered most of the top guys and it doesn't matter who it is. I feel that way whether they catch any balls or nine balls," he said.
Irvin is having another good season. He's fourth in the NFC in catches with 62 and second to Sterling Sharpe of the Green Bay Packers in receiving yards at 1,150.
Green rates Irvin with Jerry Rice of the San Francisco 49ers, Roy Green of the Philadelphia Eagles and Mike Quick, the former Eagles receiver who has retired, at the top of his own list.
Green said there's nothing "mystical or magical" about Irvin's success against him.
"I just see it as a quarterback [Troy Aikman] and a wide receiver making great execution. I don't think there's any cause for me to retire. I'm the first to say congratulations. But I think everything is still in place. It's still a great wide receiver going against a pretty decent cornerback," he said.
Green isn't exactly in top form right now because it will be only his third start since coming back from a broken forearm he suffered in the second game of the year. He has an ugly scar running the length of his forearm after having a plate placed in it.
"I'm not feeling exactly the way I'd like to feel," he said. "But I have no excuses. That is not something I will say cost me. When I line up there, I'm saying I'm ready to go out and do the job and believe I can get the job done," he said.
Not all of Irvin's catches have come against Green because the Redskins play zone on occasion, but Green knows they all go in his column.
"It sounds very prideful for me to point that out. No, he didn't catch every pass on me. But that comes with the territory," he said.
At 6-2, Irvin has a five-inch height advantage, but Green downplays that fact. "The question is, when the ball arrives, are you in position? The ball has to come down. It doesn't matter about size," he said.
In the end, it just comes down to whether Green can make the plays.
"I've gone against all these great All-Pro guys. I'm either going to be in their Hall of Fame film or they're going to be in mine. They're either going to run me out of the league or I'm going to run them out. Hey, I can hang with them. I've got more winning days than losing days because when it starts going the other way, you're not here," Green said.
At age 32, Green hopes to prove Sunday he's going to be here for a while longer.
NOTES: CB A. J. Johnson (knee) returned to practice for the first time since being injured on Nov. 23 against the New Orleans Saints. Three injured players -- tight end Terry Orr, guard Mark Schlereth and linebacker Wilber Marshall -- missed practice, but all are expected to play, so the Redskins are the healthiest they've been in several weeks.
Michael Irvin vs. Redskins
Year .. .. .. Rec. .. .. Yds. .. .. TDs
1988 .. .. .. 6 .. .. .. 149 .. .. 3
.. .. .. .. ..0 .. .. .. 0 .. .. ..0
1989 .. .. .. 0 .. .. .. .0 .. . .. 0
.. .. .. .. 5 .. .. .. 78 .. .. ..0
1990 .. .. .. 3 .. .. .. 30 .. .. ..1
.. .. .. ... 0 .. .. .. 0 .. .. ..0
1991 .. .. .. 4 .. .. .. 44 .. .. ..1
.. .. .. .. ..9 .. .. .. 130 .. .. .1
1992 .. .. .. 5 .. .. .. 89 .. .. ..0
Tot .. .. .. 32 .. .. ..520 .. .. ..6