In some rather dated news, CIT's own Michael Irvin was elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame this past weekend. This move is, of course, not without some controversy. However, longtime readers of this blog (Dad, I think that's you) know where I come down on Mike's greatness.
Irvin was the heart and soul of the great Cowboy teams of the 90s. On a team full of perennial Pro Bowlers, a few guys who are going to wind up in the Hall of Fame with him, and a whole sackful of great (and I mean GREAT) players and coaches, Mike may well have been the most important cog in the machine. Not the most talented, not the most physically gifted guy on the field, ever, Mike was the glue that held it all together, the fuel that made it run. He was the one guy on the entire roster who could get in anyone's face, from the rookie kick returner to Charles Haley to Emmit Smith to the nearly omniscient Jimmy himself. And when you HAD to have eight yards, you called #88. Everyone, from the guy selling hot dogs in the upper deck to the truck driver listening to the game on the radio at 75 mph on I-40 to Auntie Vo in Vientiane to the defensive back across the line from him knew the ball was going in Mike's direction. And no one could stop him.
How great is that?
It's Hall of Fame great, brother.
Was Mike a scumbag off the field? Yep. Sure was. He contributed significantly to my disillusionment with pro athletes. Is he still a scumbag? Weeellllll, maybe I'm naive, but I don't think so. That's partially based on his staying out of trouble for a few years now as well as a personal conversation I had with him. I really think he's cleaned it up.
I will say that I loved his speech. He doesn't shy away from where he's been. There are worse traits a guy can have.
I guess it comes down to this - I was a HUGE fan of the guy when he was playing. He disappointed me (and I actually got the chance to tell him that), but he appears to be trying. And I'll give just about anyone a second chance.
Yay, Mike. I hope I run into you again some day and I get the chance to tell you that in person too.