The class of 2005 NFL Hall of Fame inductees were announced Saturday evening, and while deserving nods were given to quarterbacks Steve Young and Dan “0-for” Marino, one name was noticeably absent from the list.
And guess what else, folks? He’s a ‘Cane. In fact, he’s the ‘Cane.
Of course, we all know why he didn’t get in. It certainly wasn’t his stat sheet (his gaudy career numbers include 750 receptions for nearly 12,000 yards), nor was it his championship track record (before you can argue whether the current Patriots are the newest NFL dynasty, you must first acknowledge that Dallas was its last). It couldn’t be his personality; after Lamar Thomas broke his career receiving record at UM, Michael Irvin sent Thomas a framed picture of himself just in case Thomas “forgot what a great receiver looks like.” And, let’s be honest: it has absolutely zero to do with his college pedigree.
Instead, it was his much-publicized misbehavior that kept Irvin shut out of Canton’s vaunted doors. There was the adultery charge in 1996; he was acquitted. There were a couple drug possession charges; certainly not unique amongst professional athletes (did Lawrence Taylor get held out of the Hall?). There was even Scissor-Gate, when, during training camp in 1998, he stabbed teammate Everett McIver over an argument about a haircut-hey, at least you know where the scissors came into play.
And, sure, these are no mistakes that any man would be proud of. But Irvin overcame them. “Sometimes, we all have problems and they can get overwhelming, but when God saves us, we think about all He has brought us through and it’s just amazing,” he said just one year ago. “You might say I should hide my problems, but I just want to spread the word about how good Jesus is to me. It’s His hand who brought me through all this.”
But don’t take my word for it. I’m just a college student.
Instead, why don’t you check out Emmitt Smith’s retirement speech, when he broke down thanking Irvin for helping him throughout his career. Smith was a Gator and is a certain Hall of Famer.
Why don’t you ask Deion Sanders, Irvin’s best friend, who helped Irvin turn his life around. Neon Deion was a Seminole and is a certain Hall of Famer.
Or, when posed with the question, “Michael Irvin or Jerry Rice?,” this Hall of Fame receiver replied, “Michael Irvin” faster than he could get off the line of scrimmage.
That Hall of Fame receiver? Jerry Rice.
Ben Minkus can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.