I love to hear Michael Irvin speak. He does so with the passion in his voice of a southern minister and like any good speaker, he speaks from his heart. VIDEO from symposium.
When Michael spoke to the rookies, he sent a very strong message that you can damage your name in a very short amount of time if you mess up like he did. Irvin said that he would trade his rings (Super Bowl) in order to clear his name. He pointed out that his son can google ‘Michael Irvin’ and find out about things he did that he is not proud of. That really puts it into perspective.
No Michael was not a saint when he played with Dallas but I always had the impression he was a great teammate and an outstanding leader in the locker room and field. Irvin’s troubles were away from football. As a player, his teammates say no one gave more effort or time than Irvin to be a great player. He set an excellent example with his work ethic. He was a vocal leader in the locker room.
Teammate Daryl Johnston said of Irvin, “Michael was the hardest working guy on our team. … He was a guy who made some wrong decisions, but he never took anything public, and he never spoke out against anyone on our team. He wasn’t a problem. He was more of an inspiration.”
While watching those teams win Super Bowls, you just knew Irvin was the leader as his drive to win was obvious and contagious. When the ref. put the ball down to begin play, you knew Irvin was going to show up and play to win that game. I imagine that rookies who played with Irvin discovered quickly where Irvin stood when it came to effort.
If a player missed an assignment and let the QB get sacked or something, I believe Irvin would be the last person that player wanted to see when he came back to the huddle. He just might get up in his grill and challenge him to do better. Not so sure the Cowboys have that kind of leader now but they need it.
At the rookie symposium, I think Irvin got up in their grill and challenged these young men to do better than he did.
On the field Irvin was a winner. That’s just a fact but off the field he had his demons. Irvin talks about growing up in the ghetto of Fort Lauderdale and how he looks back and realizes he wasn’t really prepared to handle the success that came his way so quickly. He warned the current crop of rookies that they may not be quite ready for it either. Irvin said that he sure could have used some guidance when he was a rookie coming into the NFL but they had no rookie symposium.
I think it is more challenging than ever for rookies in the NFL who are coming into the league at younger ages than ever and with more media coverage too. It’s not getting any easier to keep your name clean.
Let’s hope these rookies learn from the words of Michael Irvin and avoid the mistakes he made off the field while bringing the amount of effort on the field that Irvin did. Things are going to happen fast for some of these guys and the temptations and opportunities that come with it will certainly follow. Before they act, perhaps now they will consider what will pop up when their children google their name.
Rookies, mistakes can and will occur but when they do, remember what Irvin said in his Hall of Fame speech:
“Look up, get up and don’t ever give up.”
–Michael Irvin HOF speech in Canton.