Michael Irvin, October 2007
|Date of birth:March 5, 1966|
|Place of birth: Fort Lauderdale, Florida|
|High school: Fort Lauderdale (FL) Aquinas|
|College: Miami (FL)|
|NFL Draft: 1988 / Round: 1 / Pick: 11|
|Debuted in 1988 for the Dallas Cowboys|
|Last played in 1999 for the Dallas Cowboys|
Career highlights and awards
Career NFL statistics
Michael Jerome Irvin (born March 5, 1966) is a former American football player for the Dallas Cowboys, and an actor. He is also a former broadcaster for ESPN's Sunday NFL Countdown and currently an analyst for NFL Network. Irvin was self-nicknamed "The Playmaker" due to his penchant for making big plays in big games during his college and pro career. He played college football at the University of Miami. In 2007, he was selected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
- 1 College career
- 2 Professional career
- 3 Legal troubles
- 4 Controversial statements
- 5 Entertainment career
- 6 Personal
- 7 See also
- 8 References
- 9 External links
The 15th of 17 siblings, Irvin was born in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. He first attended Piper High School then went on to become a football star at St. Thomas Aquinas High School and was heavily recruited by the University of Miami, one of the top collegiate football programs in the nation. With the University of Miami, under coach Jimmy Johnson, Irvin set school records for career receptions (143), receiving yards (2,423 - later broken by Santana Moss) and touchdown receptions (26). He was part of Miami's 1987 National Championship team, and made one of the most legendary plays in school history that year, scoring on a 73-yard fourth-quarter touchdown pass from Steve Walsh that provided the margin of victory in Miami's triumph over archrival Florida State, which propelled them into the National Championship Game against the top ranked Oklahoma Sooners in the Orange Bowl.
Even at the time, Irvin was known for his exuberance, best displayed by his routine practice of pointing to the sky with both hands after scoring touchdowns. Critics referred to the move as hot-dogging, though Irvin responded that the gesture was a tribute to his late father. Before a game, his mother would tell him "Say a little prayer, and ask God to be with you...Then go get 'em." Irvin retired the celebration after forgoing his final year of eligibility to declare for the 1988 NFL Draft.
Since leaving the University of Miami, Irvin has remained a staunch supporter of the Hurricanes' football program, often seen on the Miami sideline during big games and giving tutorials to receivers. He has also acted as a mentor off the field to younger Hurricane players over the years.
Michael was inducted into the University of Miami Sports Hall of Fame in 2000.
- 1985: 46 catches for 840 yards and 9 TD
- 1986: 53 catches for 868 yards and 11 TD
Irvin was drafted by the Dallas Cowboys with the 11th selection in the first round of the 1988 NFL Draft. He was the last first-round draft pick made by the Cowboys under the leadership of long-time general manager Tex Schramm, player personnel director Gil Brandt, and coach Tom Landry (Schramm predicted that Irvin would accelerate the Cowboys' "return to the living"). Irvin became the first rookie receiver in Cowboys' history to start a game in 20 years, in which he caught his first touchdown the same game. Also as a rookie, Irvin caught 3 touchdown passes in the Cowboys' win over Washington, one of only three wins that season and the final win of Tom Landry's career. He finished his rookie season with a 20.4 yards per catch average, which led the NFC.
The Cowboys misfortunes continued the following year as they finished with a 1–15 record, the worst in franchise history, while injuries limited Irvin to only six games. But under the strength of new players such as Jay Novacek, Troy Aikman, and Emmitt Smith, the team began to improve. They finished the 1990 season 7–9, and then recorded an 11–5 record in 1991. Irvin was a major reason for their playoff season of 1991, finishing with 93 receptions, an NFL-best 1,523 yards, and 8 touchdowns. He made the All-Pro team that year and was selected to the first of five consecutive Pro Bowls.
From 1991 through 1998, Irvin recorded 1,000-yard seasons in all but one year, racking up an impressive 10,265 yards over an eight-year span. Along the way, the Cowboys made four straight appearances in the NFC Championship Game (1992–1995) and captured three Super Bowl titles with back-to-back wins over the Buffalo Bills in Super Bowl XXVII and Super Bowl XXVIII, and the Pittsburgh Steelers in Super Bowl XXX. His best season was in 1995, when he set Dallas records for receptions (111) and receiving yards (1,603), while also scoring 10 touchdowns and setting an NFL record with 11 games with over 100 yards receiving. He added seven receptions for 100 yards and two touchdowns against the Green Bay Packers in the NFC Championship Game en route to the Cowboys' third Super Bowl win in a span of four seasons.
Irvin is the only player to play for each of the first four Cowboys coaches since the team has been owned by Jerry Jones (Landry, Johnson, Barry Switzer and Chan Gailey). Irvin officially announced his retirement after Dave Campo became the fifth Cowboys coach, but Irvin never played on the field for Campo.
The Cowboys have been in eight Super Bowls; Irvin played in three of them, all of which Dallas won.
Winning Super Bowls in the 1990s
In 1992 and 1993, Irvin was a key player on the Cowboys' Super Bowl teams. In 1994, he enjoyed another stellar campaign with his fourth consecutive Pro Bowl season, but that year the Cowboys lost to the San Francisco 49ers in the NFC Championship Game. For his part, however, Irvin had one of the most productive games in NFL playoff history, with 12 catches for an NFC championship record 192 yards and two touchdowns.
One of his greatest performances was in Super Bowl XXVII, where he caught seven passes for 114 yards and two touchdowns. His two touchdowns catches were both in the second quarter and occurred in a span of just 18 seconds, the fastest pair of touchdowns ever scored by one player in Super Bowl history. He also became only the second player ever to score 2 touchdowns in one quarter of a Super Bowl, after Washington Redskins wide receiver Ricky Sanders in Super Bowl XXII.
Irvin was also a key contributor in the Cowboys victories in Super Bowl XXVIII and Super Bowl XXX, recording five receptions for 66 yards in the first one, and five receptions for 75 yards in the second.
Career-ending injury in Philadelphia
Recovered from his collar bone injury, Irvin returned to have very solid years in 1997 and 1998. During the fifth game of the 1999 season, Irvin, playing wide receiver, was tackled at Veterans Stadium in Philadelphia by Philadelphia Eagles defensive back Tim Hauck and went head-first into the turf.
Irvin was carted off the Philadelphia field on a stretcher as the Philadelphia fans cheered, and the play in Philadelphia proved to be his last. He sustained a non-life-threatening cervical spinal cord injury and was subsequently diagnosed with a narrow spinal column (cervical spinal stenosis), which forced him into early retirement.
Irvin later told talkshow host Jim Rome that he accepted Eagles fans cheering his injury because he'd been "killing them for 10 years".
Irvin was the last Tom Landry-coached player to retire from the NFL. Tom Landry passed away in the months between Irvin's last game and his official retirement announcement.
Records and honors
Irvin finished his career with 750 receptions (tied with Charlie Joiner for 30th all-time in the NFL) for 11,904 yards (21st all-time in the NFL) and 65 touchdowns. His 47 100-yard receiving games remains the third most in NFL history, behind Hall of Famers Jerry Rice (65) and Don Maynard (50). Irvin was selected to five Pro Bowls (2 more than any other wide receiver in franchise history) and was named the MVP of the 1992 Pro Bowl (following the 1991 season) after catching 8 passes for 125 yards and a touchdown in the NFC's 21–15 triumph. Irvin was a key playmaker for the Dallas Cowboys that won 6 division titles and three Super Bowls. As part of Dallas' starting lineup on offense, Irvin was a consistent force to be reckoned with in the regular season but he also excelled in postseason play where his six career 100-yard receiving days are just two shy of the NFL mark held by Jerry Rice (8). His 87 postseason receptions place him second in NFL playoff history, again behind Rice (151), and his 1,315 postseason receiving yards ranks second only to Rice (2,245), a Hall of Fame inductee.
At 6'2" and 207 pounds, Irvin was a big, physical receiver who manhandled cornerbacks and often was able to make tough catches in defensive traffic. In part because of Irvin's ability to push off the defender with such ease, the NFL eventually changed its rules to adjust to wide receivers who emulated Irvin's physical style.
For Dallas, Irvin was a vocal, emotional leader, who set every significant career receiving mark in team history, including catches and receiving yards. At the time of his retirement, he owned or was tied for 20 Cowboys receiving records. Despite his "Playmaker" style on the field and flashy personality that was evident in his animated, brash commentary as a top NFL analyst for ESPN, Irvin is most remembered by his fellow Cowboys as a consummate teammate. As Fox's Daryl Johnston told a national conference call: "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." Currently, Irvin has high regard for players who are from as he likes to call the University of Miami, "The U," such as Frank Gore and Edgerrin James.
Along with his former Cowboy teammates Troy Aikman and Emmitt Smith, Irvin was inducted into the Dallas Cowboys Ring of Honor on September 19, 2005.
Irvin became eligible for induction into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2005. He was not selected, however, in 2005 or 2006, his first two years of eligibility. However, on February 3, 2007, his third year of eligibility, Irvin was elected as one of the class of 2007 enshrinees, alongside Thurman Thomas, Bruce Matthews, Roger Wehrli, Charlie Sanders, and Gene Hickerson. Irvin was inducted into the Hall of Fame on August 4, 2007 in Canton, Ohio.
Irvin became one of three former NFL players with Cowboys ties selected for induction into the 2007 class of the Texas Sports Hall of Fame, joining four other notables who will be inducted at a February, 2008, ceremony in Waco, Texas. (The other players are Jim Ray Smith of the Cleveland Browns who finished his career with the Cowboys (1963–64) and Ray Childress a five-time Pro Bowl defensive end for the Houston Oilers who wrapped up his NFL career with the Cowboys in 1996.) In 2007 he was named to FHSAA's All-Century Team that listed the Top 33 football players in the state of Florida's 100-year history of high school football.
Hall of Fame Induction
On August 4, 2007, Irvin was inducted into the Professional Football Hall of Fame, delivering a tearful acceptance speech in which he referenced both his life as a football player and the many mistakes he has made in his life. His speech has been praised by many NFL commentators as heartfelt, including those who had been inclined to dislike him.
On October 14, 2007, Michael Irvin accepted his Hall of Fame ring at Texas Stadium during halftime of the Dallas Cowboys/New England Patriots game. In his speech, he proposed to Commissioner Roger Goodell that from the 2008 class, all drafted rookies (not regarding subsequent undrafted rookie free agents) will have a tour of Pro Football Hall of Fame to better understand their football history.
In March 1996, Irvin was arrested on charges of cocaine possession at a hotel party celebrating his 30th birthday. When arrested he was lying on the floor covered in cocaine with multiple strippers performing sexual acts upon him. After numerous court appearances amid a national media circus, which featured Irvin showing up to court in a full-length mink coat, he pled no contest to the charges and was sentenced to community service, ordered to pay a $10,000 fine, and put on 4-years probation. When tested for illegal drugs, he tested negative. But the NFL suspended Irvin for the first five games of the 1996 season.
In Irvin's 1996 absence, the Cowboys struggled out of the gate and never recovered. Upon his return from suspension, Irvin tallied 962 receiving yards in only 11 games.
Sexual assault allegation
Irvin's reputation was further damaged in 1996 as the Cowboys prepared to play the Carolina Panthers in the NFC Divisional Playoff game. Media reports stated that Irvin and teammate Erik Williams while under the influence of cocaine had sexually assaulted a Dallas Cheerleader, Nina Shahravan, and, with a gun to her head, videotaped the interaction.
Despite Williams' and Irvin's denials of the allegations, the story overshadowed the game, which the Cowboys lost. The accuser was later proven to have fabricated the entire incident. She recanted her story, pled guilty to perjury and filing a false police report, and was sentenced to 90 days in jail and a fine.
In the first quarter of the playoff game with Carolina, with Shahravan's allegations under active investigation by Dallas police, Irvin suffered a broken collarbone, ending his 1996 season.
1998 alleged assault
In 1998 Irvin was alleged to be involved in a bizarre incident during training camp when he allegedly inflicted a two-inch cut in the neck of Dallas guard Everett McIver while some team members were getting haircuts. Whether it was battery or accidental McIver did not press charges, and rumors swirled that Irvin brokered a six-figure settlement with McIver to drop the matter. Accounts of this incident after the alleged settlement became difficult to find or research in the local Dallas press.
Arrests since retirement
A year following his retirement from the NFL, Irvin again was arrested on drug possession charges. In this case, Irvin was in a Dallas apartment with an unrelated woman. Neither answered the door when police drug task force agents arrived with a search warrant. Police entered the apartment forcibly, finding drugs. Irvin and the female were placed under arrest, though charges against Irvin were later dropped.
The promises of a new lifestyle in broadcasting appeared to be short-lived, with Irvin again arrested. In this instance Irvin was pulled over in Plano, Texas, for speeding on November 25, 2005. Irvin was arrested on an outstanding warrant on an unpaid speeding ticket in Irving, Texas, but was also cited for misdemeanor possession of drug paraphernalia after police searched his car and found a pipe, and plastic bags with marijuana residue. Irvin was arrested for a Class C misdemeanor. He was later released on bond.
Two days after his arrest, Irvin appeared on ESPN's "Sunday NFL Countdown", as scheduled, on November 27, 2005. In his on-the-air comments that evening, he stated that he had taken the drug paraphernalia away from a longtime friend who was battling a drug addiction. Irvin told the Associated Press he was trying to help someone close to him get off drugs and cares more about that than his chances of being inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame. The next day Irvin said the pipe was in fact his brother's and he (Irvin) was going to throw it out but had forgotten to do so.
On December 1, 2005, however, ESPN suspended Irvin for the Sunday and Monday night Countdown shows on December 4 and December 5, 2005. He returned to both shows with no mention or consequence of the past incident.
Another sexual assault allegation
On July 4, 2007 Irvin was accused of sexual assault while he was at the Seminole Hard Rock Casino in Hollywood, Florida. Charges were never filed, but a civil suit was filed against him in 2010. Irvin filed a $100 million defamation countersuit, which was dropped when the case was settled out of court in January, 2011.
Victim of alleged carjacking attempt
Irvin claims that he was a victim of a possible carjacking attempt while stopped at a light in Dallas on January 12, 2009. He filed a police report claiming that two men flashed a gun at him, but eventually drove away after commenting that they were Cowboys fans. Dallas police suspended their investigation two weeks later, stating that Irvin had not cooperated in the investigation and that without more information from him, they could not proceed.
Controversy continued to follow Irvin when during a November 2006 radio interview on the Dan Patrick show, Irvin joked that Dallas Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo's athletic ability may have been due to African-American heritage, and made references to Romo's maternal relatives being involved with "slave brothers". Irvin later apologized. He explained himself saying, "this is how I joke around with Romo when we're playing basketball. There's a difference from me the player and me the broadcaster".
On February 17, 2007, during its late edition of SportsCenter, ESPN announced that Irvin was no longer with the network. ESPN Communications Vice President Josh Krulewitz said of Irvin, "We thank Michael for his contributions to ESPN and wish him well." However, eleven months later, in January 2008, Irvin rejoined ESPN as a host on ESPN Radio O&O KESN (103.3 FM) in Dallas, hosting The Michael Irvin Show. This locally-aired program ended on February 5, 2010, and Irvin was let go after his contract expired. An ESPN spokesman cited declining ratings and that news of a lawsuit filed against Irvin for a 2007 incident "simply expedited the situation".
Irvin is also featured in various commercials for NFL Network that air seasonally on other networks.
Irvin was a co-star in the 2005 remake of The Longest Yard, starring Adam Sandler and Chris Rock. Irvin also guest starred in Sandler's film Jack & Jill, which was released on November 11, 2011. He was one of the "Pros" on an episode of Pros vs Joes, which puts former pro athletes against average people. He was the host of 4th and Long, a football-themed reality series which aired on Spike TV. The winner, Jesse Holley earned a spot at the Dallas Cowboys' training camp.
Irvin also appeared in a 2009 episode of Burn Notice, titled "Hot Spot," playing a football coach for disadvantaged kids who recruits the main characters to help one of his players out.
Irvin also hosts a radio show on Miami's WQAM with Kevin Kiley from Noon to 3 PM. The show moved to 10 AM to 1 PM before being taken off of the airways of WQAM in 2012.
Irvin was born into a family of 17 children.
Michael Irvin married Sandy Harrell in June 1990; they have three children. He also has a daughter, Myesha Beyonca, by former girlfriend Felicia Walker. His niece, Sandora Irvin, was a standout basketball player at Texas Christian University. On April 16, 2005, Sandora was selected by the Phoenix Mercury of the WNBA in their annual draft.
Irvin has joined with the Tetra Companies to form TMI Group, which develops mixed-use properties throughout the Mid-Atlantic and Southeast.
Irvin recently spoke in a 2011 article in Out magazine. Irvin discussed his homosexual older brother, who died of stomach cancer in 2006. He claimed his initial feelings of homophobia in relation to his brother led to womanizing during his playing days, but eventual acceptance and feelings of love toward his older brother initiated his understanding for people with difficulty sharing their circumstances.
In August 2011, officials from the Elite Football League of India announced that Irvin would be among the primary investors and advisers for the league. Other prominent American backers include former Chicago Bears head coach Mike Ditka, former Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Ron Jaworski, and NFL linebacker Brandon Chillar.
- Aikman, Emmitt, Irvin Heading Into Ring Of Honor
- "Dancing With The Stars Season 9 Cast".
- Joyce Eng (17 August 2009). "Dancing with the Stars 2009 Season 9 Cast Revealed!". TVGuide.com. Retrieved 2009-08-17.
- "'There's no excuse for what we did'". Sports Illustrated. October 14, 1999. Retrieved 2010-12-03.
- Horn, Barry (2005-11-11). "Comment on Eagles another sign Irvin is go-to guy in a new field". Dallas Morning News website. Retrieved 2008-11-28.
- "Cowboys' Pressure Sacks Seahawks". Dallascowboys.com. 2008-11-27. Retrieved 2008-11-28.[dead link]
- "Michael Irvin: 2007 Hall of Fame enshrinement speech". Sports.espn.go.com. 2007-08-05. Retrieved 2008-11-28.
- "Irvin's HOF project". NFL.com. Retrieved 2008-11-28.
- Jeff Pearlman, "Sex, drugs and shoulder pads", The Observer, March 1, 2009 
- See Pearlman, Jeff (2008) Boys Will Be Boys: The Glory Days and Party Nights of the Dallas Cowboys Dynasty (New York: Harper Collins), pp.1-7
- "Irvin arrested on charge of cocaine possession". Espn.go.com. 2001-06-18. Retrieved 2009-03-11.
- "Irvin: pipe belonged to friend, not brother". Sports.espn.go.com. 2005-11-19. Retrieved 2008-11-28.
- "Irvin won't appear on ESPN shows this weekend". Sports.espn.go.com. 2005-12-01. Retrieved 2008-11-28.
- "Broward prosecutors decline to charge Irvin in rape investigation". http://www.miamiherald.com/. 2010-02-24. Retrieved 2010-02-24.
- "Report: Michael Irvin suit settled". ESPNDallas.com. Retrieved 1 November 2013.
- Michael Irvin: Would-Be Carjackers Recognized Me NBC-DFW, January 12, 2009
- Police Halt Investigation on Irvin Case SI.com, January 29, 2009
- "Michael Irvin's Tony Romo Comments, Revisited". Mondesishouse.blogspot.com. 2006-11-22. Retrieved 2008-11-28.
- "Irvin on comments: 'Inappropriate and insensitive'". Sports.espn.go.com. 2006-11-28. Retrieved 2008-11-28.
- Wilonksy, Robert (February 5, 2010). "Michael Irvin Out at ESPN's Dallas Radio Station. His Replacements: Ben and Skin.". Unfair Park (Dallas Observer).
- Horn, Barry (February 5, 2010). "Michael Irvin out ESPN 103.3; Ben & Skin are in". Dallas Morning News.
- Michael Irvin-hosted Reality Competition Winner Will Join Dallas Cowboys Training Camp Reality Blurred, January 23, 2009
- 4th and Long Official Show Website, Spike TV. Retrieved on 2009-06-28.
- Michael Irvin Show Page
- Zeigler, Sid. "Michael Irvin: The Playmaker Preaches". Out Magazine. Retrieved 14 July 2011.
- "Topic Galleries". Chicago Tribune.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Michael Irvin.|
- Career statistics and player information from NFL.com • ESPN • SI.com • Pro-Football-Reference
- Pro Football Hall of Fame: Member profile
- Michael Irvin's Official Website and Merchandise.
- Michael Irvin profile at NNDB.