If you are a die-hard Dallas Cowboys fan who enjoyed our dynasty in the '90s, then you more than likely have a great deal of appreciation for Michael Irvin. On the field, he was a fierce competitor and had great work habits that translated to one of the best wide receivers in the league. His arrogance didn't make him a favorite in visiting cities, but Cowboys' fans loved it. He went to five straight Pro Bowls, spanning from 1991-1995. He is 20th all-time in receiving yards and 29th all-time in catches. He is also a 3-time Super Bowl Champion. And in 2007 he was rewarded for his accomplishments by being inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
But that was on the field.
Off the field, he wasn't a Hall of Fame person. Irvin was caught up in drugs, hookers, and an unfortunate incident where he stabbed his teammate with scissors. I will always admire "the playmaker" for what he did for our team, but it is hard to look past his off the field antics. It got me thinking, does a player like Michael Irvin belong in the Hall of Fame? My initial thought on this is that he should be judged soley on what he did on the field. He certainly has enough accomplishments to warrant consideration. But when you take into account the significance of all his actions, you could make a case that he is someone that shouldn't be necessarilly honored. In fact, how he avoided more jail time is surprising to me.
And it's not just situations like Irvin. Maybe it is easy to distinguish how worthy he is, but what about other players who's character has been heavily damaged? Should O.J. Simpson be stripped of his honor? He wasn't convicted of anything, but isn't it sickening that he's in the HOF.
What about Barry Bonds? He was at one point right up there with Babe Ruth as possibly the greatest baseball player that ever played. But his issue has a more direct impact on his performance. How do we fairly judge someone like that? They better figure it out, because they'll have the same dilemma when Roger Clemens and A-Rod reach the pearly gates.
And then there's someone like Pete Rose. His gambling scandal doesn't take away what he accomplished on the field, but he disgraced the game of baseball.
So that is the question I pose upon you - when it comes to the most storied honor in professional sports, how much should one's character play into the decision of whether or not they get in?