Sunday, February 06, 2005

Michael deserves a Hall pass

When I heard who would be inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame this weekend, I was shocked. Not by Dan Marino's induction. Not by Steven Young's induction. By Michael Irvin's exclusion! Is that a joke?

Irvin deserves the Hall of Fame. The only feasible reason to keep him out would be his off-field problem, and I don't believe that's enough!

As if his 750 receptions for 11,904 yards and 65 touchdowns in the regular season from 1988-1999 with the Cowboys wasn't enough, Irvin was intrumental in the 'Boys' three Super Bowl wins (XXVII, XXVIII, XXX) in tht 1990s. There's a reason his nickname will always be The Playmaker.

That's what Michael Irvin did. I grew up going to Texas Stadium and watching Troy Aikman play-fake the ball to Emmitt Smith before launching it downfield to Irvin, who would make a juggling circus catch before running the rest of the way to the endzone. In fact, Michael Irvin led the Cowboys in receiving from 1991-1998.

Let's not forget his playoff numbers: 87 receptions for 1,315 yards and eight touchdowns in seven playoff seasons ('91-'96, '98).

Irvin's number's are good enough for Canton. That is indisputable.

Don't believe me? Let's compare The Playmaker to the best receiver in NFL History: Jerry Rice.

Jerry Rice, who has played 20 seasons from 1985-2004 (and may very well be back next year) in the NFL has recorded 22,895 receiving yards (a record that will never be broken by anyone). He has played in 303 games, starting 284 of them. Michael Irvin played in roughly half that many games (159 - while starting 147 of them).

Michael Irvin's career was cut short by injury four games into the 1999 season when he took a vicious hit going over the middle at the Vet in Philadelphia. He only played 11 full NFL seasons - about half that of Jerry Rice.

Logically, by only playing half as much as Rice, Irvin should have about half his numbers, which he does: 11,904 yards to 22,895. Irvin has 750 receptions to Rice's 1549. I'm not saying that Irvin would have played 20 years and broken or even come close to Rice's all-time records, but during his career, Irvin was at the same pace as Rice.

The numbers don't lie. Irvin should be in the Hall of Fame.

His off-field problems are keeping him out of Canton, and I have a problem with that. Irvin did have some serious drug problems during his time with the Dallas Cowboys. He was even arrested for possession. That has nothing to do with his ability to make plays on the field. Irvin wasn't a saint off the field, but he had the numbers.

Let's take a look at what would happen if the situation was reversed. What if Irvin didn't have the numbers, but was a humanitarian? Let's say that over his full 11 seasons in the NFL, Irvin only record an average of 20-30 receptions a year instead of his career average of 67. Instead of his 65 TD's, he only had 25, but he was a good person?

The Pro Football Hall of Fame wouldn't have even looked at him for a spot! It's about the numbers. It's about how they did on the field. Irvin took care of business when he stepped onto the turf at Texas Stadium and any other stadium he went to. He deserves his Hall pass.

This isn't like baseball's Pete Rose situation where Rose actually tainted the game by betting on the team he was managing. That's not an off-field problem. That's making the game of baseball dishonest. Irvin did nothing like that.

Irvin had drug problems. I can live with that. Irvin's drug problems didn't rock the foundation of the National Football League. He went out there 159 times in his career and made plays. The Playmaker needs his Hall pass.

1 comment:

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