Michael Irvin on Saturday became the tenth member of the Dallas Cowboys organization to join the Pro Football Hall of Fame. He joins Tom Landry, Tex Schramm, Roger Staubach, Bob Lilly, Tony Dorsett, Mel Renfro, Randy White, Rayfield Wright, and Troy Aikman in Canton.
Here is his acceptance speech–
And a great highlight film:
There are all sorts of stories out there. Here is a sampling:
Irvin grew up 25 miles from Miami in Fort Lauderdale. He was an All-American receiver at St. Thomas Aquinas High School and at the University of Miami. He was the 11th overall pick by the Cowboys in the 1988 draft.
Nicknamed “The Playmaker”, Irvin helped lead the Cowboys to six division titles and three Super Bowl championships before a spinal injury cut his playing career short. Irvin was the team’s top receiver for eight consecutive seasons and retired as the Cowboys all-time leader in receptions (750), receiving yards (11,904), playoff receptions (87) and playoff receiving yards (1,315).
Michael Irvin was elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame despite a troubled past, though voters denied entry to retired NFL Commissioner Paul Tagliabue.
The former Dallas Cowboys receiver, who won three Super Bowls in the 1990s, got in on his third try.
Irvin pleaded no contest in 1996 to felony cocaine possession. Four years later, he was arrested on drug possession charges, but they were later dropped.
The 40 Hall voters were criticized by two of Irvin’s former teammates, Emmitt Smith and Troy Aikman, for previously bypassing the wideout, who retired in 1999.
They didn’t ignore him this time.
Irvin certainly had to “get up” a time or two in his life, first from his rather humble beginnings, to recovering from major knee surgery early in his second season with the Cowboys (1990), to returning from a four-game suspension due to continued off-field problems, to this stigma he developed from those problems that seemingly would deny him entry into the Hall of Fame.
But there was a real push to right what many thought was a wrong back in 2005 when Irvin advanced to the final six of a process that had to select three guys but no more than six only to fail to receive the necessary 80-percent confirmation from the 40-member selection committee.
So this time around, Dallas representative Rick Gosselin of The Dallas Morning News had some help. USA Today’s Jarrett Bell, formerly a reporter in Dallas, got up to speak on Irvin’s behalf. So did the Fort Worth Star-Telegram’s Charean Williams, president of the Pro Football Writer’s Association.
They came armed with an overwhelming presentation. Bell put together Irvin’s playoff numbers. Aikman had the presenters look up Michael’s stats against the best cornerbacks in the league, the Darrell Greens and Deion Sanders. They had a quote from former Cowboys offensive coordinator and current head-coach candidate Norv Turner, telling the selection committee, “Darrell Green is still trying to cover Michael Irvin one-on-one.”
Irvin’s candidacy was the one that had Jerry Jones concerned. Irvin has always been a Jones favorite because of his competitiveness and because of Irvin’s resiliency in bouncing back from life’s haymakers. “If our game is about getting knocked down and then knowing how to get back up,” Jones said after the HOF announcement Saturday, “then Michael Irvin is a Hall of Famer.”
You couldn’t help but see the writing on the wall in the green room when Irvin’s name was announced. There, next to Jerry Jones was Norv Turner, celebrating and slapping hands. As Adam Schefter so aptly put it at the time, “I don’t see Wade Phillips in there.” I’m with you Adam, when I saw that picture it really started to hit me that Norv Turner will almost certainly be our next head coach, and I’m dreading it. I also noticed Jason “Red” Garrett was right there with them.