THE MODERATOR: We have Michael here. We'll open it up for questions.
When you step up to the podium Saturday, what will be at the forefront of your thoughts, you know, if you're able to reflect on your career?
Well, I mean that's an interesting question, because I'm looking to see how I handle it all when I step to the podium. There are so many things that go through my mind at this time, but to actually step to the podium--it's something that I really can't even imagine what's going to be in the forefront.
I'm trying to piece it together, okay, what do you think you'll be thinking about, how will you handle this, how can you deliver what you want to say?
That actual moment, if you're asking me what the actual moment is going to be like, I'm waiting on that myself. I've heard from people about what it's like, but hearing things and experiencing them are two different things. I'm looking forward to taking it all in. I'm a bit afraid, but I'm anxious also.
Has continuing to stay in football through broadcasting kind of dulled the effects of retirement?
Certainly. But also--and this I will talk about--it also gives me a different perspective on this game, how great of a game this really is, and that's it's not just our game. Other people love the game like we love it.
You get on the football field and you think, I'm putting in the time and we're working hard as football players and this is a game we love and that's why I played it since I was 5 years old and this is how I identify myself.
But, being an analyst and getting an opportunity to visit and be around the fans, you better believe that I have a whole new perspective of this game, because I've come face to face with people that love the game like I love it, and they’ve never played one down.
Do you still have that itch to play?
No, no, no. I still have it in my mind, but my body says no. I go out and play basketball now and maybe a little flag football with my boys, little kids and everything. I can see some things, but I can't do anything nowhere near like what I used to.
So I love being around it. As a matter of fact, when we were traveling last year with ESPN, we would go down on the field and I would watch the games. These balls were flying by me. Guys coming to hit each other, and I was like, God, did I play this?
You know, because you forget when you get away from it how fast this game really is. And being back on that football field is a whole different thing.
You were there last year in Canton and watched Troy be inducted. Did you dream at that point that you might be up there yourself?
After watching the class of John Madden, Troy Aikman, Harry Carson, Rayfield Wright, Warren Moon and Reggie White you understand that's what a Hall of Fame is all about.
I had never done that and thought maybe I would never get an opportunity to be a Hall of Famer. There were defintely doubts.
I mean, those guys were great on the football field and off the football field. So to be honest with you, I doubted that I would ever do that.
If as Coach Madden says the busts talk to each other at night, they come alive and talk to each other. If there was one bust in the Hall you could talk to, who would it be, and what would you ask that player?
MICHAEL IRVIN: I would imagine since you're asking me about the bust, the first person that I'm going to ever want to talk to is my quarterback. But since I can talk to him all the time, maybe my bust goes and say to him, We talk all the time. Let me go ask this other guy something.
There is no player-no player-that I admire more than my own quarterback. Period. Bar none. Don't tell me or try to convince me about anything else. Don't say anything to me about it. There is nobody I admire more than my own quarterback.
Now, if you asked me of the guys that I played with, things like that, I absolutely loved growing up watching guys like Kellen Winslow. I watched that game he played against Miami. I was a man, and I've always been all man, but after that game I wanted to ask him to marry me. I loved him.
I was like, that's how I would like to play. He left everything on the football field, exhausted, dead, and he came back on. And for some reason, that, to me, to have the ability to give all you have and leave it all on the field where they're carrying you off after you caught the first down, you have to rest for the second down ‑‑ and the team doesn't move the ball and then you got to get back on the field and get another big third down and they have to carry you off again.
That's a player's dream like right there.
What do you miss most about playing the game?
I miss the same thing everyone misses when they walk away from the game. The camaraderie. It's a game that's more than a game. The locker rooms, the closeness, the common goal. All of those things that cross over all barriers. It's just that hey, we are one. We are a family. We miss that.
Gameday and the yell from the crowds and all of that is fun, but it's really those things behind the scenes that you really miss. And you really do feel no longer connected to it when you leave the game.
What did football teach you about life?
Many life lessons. Many. Think about the whole structure of it all. Each week you have a game. What does that mean? Each week I get a new opportunity. Regardless of how last week went, we can make it better right now. Regardless of how things may have gone against you, you can fix it right now.
It teaches you to get back up. You got to have battles. You've got to lose battles and fight through the losses, and football teaches you that. Jimmy Johnson's favorite quote ‑‑ and I say it all the time when I'm talking to people ‑‑ Each day you get better or worse. There is so such thing as staying the same. You either make a choice to get better or make a choice to get worse.
And that's the truth. Each day you got an opportunity to get better or get worse. Which of them are you choosing to do? There are so many lessons. The famous head football coaches, whatever they are teaching you on the football field, trust me, you can apply it in life. The great ones, they do that. That's why they're so successful.
Last year in talking to Troy before his induction, I asked him to talk about the one game in his career that kind of epitomized what he did. I have a feeling that same game will come up with you. That was that NFC Championship game in 1994.
Golly, guys. Isn't that funny guys? And it is. It is. It is one of the most memorable games.
And you lost that game. But there was so much more to it.
Yeah, and we lost the game. But Troy talks about it all the time, and Troy will tell - and I think that speaks to his pathology, and of course the type of person that he is. After leading us to three Super Bowls, the game you remember, one of your most memorable games, is the '94 NFC Championship, a game we lost.
But we gave all we had. Even though we didn't play well early we never quit. We kept going. That's all a leader can ask for. Yeah, it was one of my most memorable games.
You were talking about lessons in life that you have learned through your life even though you went through troubled times. Do you think that your induction serves like a lesson for other players?
I will continue to live and try to do the right things. If that serves as an example, then so be it, and God bless it. I think some of the indiscretions, some of the mistakes I have made off the field, certainly when I go speak with some of the players or some of the guys that are having problems, it helps lend an ear.
Because they say, I know Michael has gone through it. It's been pretty public. In their eyes I'm doing well, and I am doing well. I'm being blessed and everything. So it gives people hope when they see someone else that has had struggles and they're doing fine. It gives them hope that all I got to do is hold on and try to do the right thing and I can turn things around.
I appreciate that more now. Much more than I did then.
The last time I saw you obviously you were hobbling around from that flag football game.
Yeah. And he asked me do I want to play anymore ball.
How you doing now?
MICHAEL IRVIN: I'm doing well now. I just took the little boot off because I didn't want to be walking up in Canton with people talking about how tough of a player I am and how tough I played and here I am walking up in a boot. Just seemed like it wouldn't play off right.
But I'm doing fine. Thanks for asking. I did get the boot off and I'm back trying to work out. I look good, guys. I look good and work out really hard, but there's a difference between glitter and gold. Both are shiny, but glitter gets close to heat and melts and gold purifies, and I'm just glitter.
Did you regret any part of your whole career in the NFL?
I regret some of the things that happened off the football field. The things on the football field, you know, I can't complain about career. I do believe sometimes my old age, I sit back sometimes with guys, Troy or Emmitt or those guys and we talk about, We should have won or could have won. We should have won five Super Bowls. Because now you see how short of a time it is and how quick it's gone.
At the time, you're in it you're just in it. You don't know, Hey, you know what, this thing's going to be over soon. We have this where, we can do this forever. We can just keep playing forever. We'll never stop.
But that day you stop playing, it does come. So I wish we could have won five. I don't regret my career on the football field, but at 41 I regret some of the mistakes I made off the football field.
How does to feel that you be part of this ceremony in Canton, Ohio?
It's funny for me here, because you guys know how I like to have fun and push the confidence button until it's bulging and cocky. But I really have been humbled by it all. I don't think that I understood they enormity and size of the whole affair.
I truly believe that I didn't understand it, and I'm learning more and more about it as we get closer and closer. I sit back and say, wow, because I've actually been--and it's hard to get me this way--just kind of embarrassed with it. And they're so happy for me and they're so sincere and I appreciate it. But it's kind of like, Oh, God I don't know if I deserve this, so it kind of embarrasses you a little bit.
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