Congratulations to Michael Irvin who was finally voted into the Hall of Fame. Irvin deserved to make it, his numbers and championships say so, but he was previously undone by his own spotty past. This year, the writers finally realized that it's about what he did on the field, and rectified a mistake by placing the mercurial, but always entertaining wide-out, in the Hall of Fame.
Michael Irvin had to overcome his past for the third time in his career to land a spot in the Pro Football Hall of Fame. During Irvin's playing days he overcame his hard-partying ways to become a dominant wide receiver and help lead the Dallas Cowboys to three Super Bowls in the 90's. Once he retired, he again had to overcome his own failings to keep his job as a sports analyst on T.V. Finally, he had to overcome the judgments of a small group of sportswriters to make the Hall of Fame.
Irvin will always be associated with The Triplets along with Troy Aikman and Emmitt Smith. Now that Irvin joins Aikman in the Hall, the trio will be complete once Smith is eligible in 2010. (Note to Emmitt, you should've just skipped those Cardinal years). Aikman was the golden-boy QB, an icy technician who amazed with his accuracy and his big arm. Smith was the constant, the unstoppable force that the Cowboys relied upon to make their offense go. Irvin, in addition to being a feared receiver, was the emotional leader, the guy who said the things that needed to be said in the locker room, the guy who would never let the team quit in any game. His fierce competitiveness, work ethic and dedication to winning rubbed off on the rest of the roster and the Dallas Cowboys of the 90's combined their incredible talent with an incredible drive to win - and created one of the great dynasties of the NFL. Right in the middle of all that was Michael Irvin.
His numbers were sufficient in their own right to propel him into the HoF. He amassed 750 receptions, 11,904 yards, and 65 TD's. He would've had even more if his career hadn't been cut short by an injury suffered at the miserable Veterans Stadium against the Eagles. Add on to that three Super Bowl rings and Irvin was a lock to make it, once the writers got over their moral judgments. But Irvin was more to the Cowboys than just his numbers, he was their symbol, he embodied the Jimmy Johnson-era Cowboys. Brash, fearless, supremely talented, with a single-mined focus on winning, Irvin represented the best of the 90's Cowboys. Unfortunately, he also represented the worst.
On a day of celebration for Irvin, I'll resist the temptation to list his past transgressions. Suffice it to say, as hard as Irvin played on the field, he surpassed it with his play off the field, and it wasn't pretty. He became the definition of the modern-day decadent athlete.
But today I'll think of Irvin the receiver. I'll think of a player who would do anything to help his team win. He could go deep if you needed him to, or he could go over the middle and catch a pass in traffic, even when getting blasted by a safety or linebacker. His toughness was unquestioned, his will-to-win unmatched, his talent was unbelievable. He was all you wanted in a wide receiver. He was a Hall of Fame player.