Michael Irvin
refer to caption
Irvin in 2013
No. 88
Position:Wide receiver
Personal information
Born: (1966-03-05) March 5, 1966 (age 56)
Fort Lauderdale, Florida, U.S.
Height:6 ft 2 in (1.88 m)
Weight:207 lb (94 kg)
Career information
High school:St. Thomas Aquinas
(Fort Lauderdale, Florida)
College:Miami (FL) (1984–1987)
NFL Draft:1988 / Round: 1 / Pick: 11
Career history
Career highlights and awards
Career NFL statistics
Receiving yards:11,904
Receiving touchdowns:65
Player stats at NFL.com · PFR

Michael Jerome Irvin (born March 5, 1966) is an American sports commentator and former professional football wide receiver for the Dallas Cowboys of the National Football League (NFL). In 2007, he was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

Irvin played college football at the University of Miami and was selected in the first round of the 1988 NFL Draft by the Dallas Cowboys. He spent his entire 12-year National Football League (NFL) career (1988-1999) with the Cowboys before his career ended with an October 10, 1999 cervical spine injury in a game against the Philadelphia Eagles at Veterans Stadium.

Irvin was nicknamed "the Playmaker" due to his penchant for making big plays in big games during his college and pro careers. He is one of three key Cowboys offensive players, along with Troy Aikman and Emmitt Smith, known as "The Triplets" who led the Cowboys to three Super Bowl championships in 1992, 1993, and 1995.[1] He is widely regarded as one of the greatest wide receivers of all time.[2][3][4]

Irvin is a former broadcaster for ESPN's Sunday NFL Countdown and currently an analyst for NFL Network.

In 2009, he competed in season 9 of Dancing with the Stars and was the ninth contestant to be eliminated.[5][6]

Early life

Michael Irvin was born in 1966 in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. He was the 15th of 17 children in his family.[7] Irvin first attended Piper High School in Sunrise, Florida and then went on to become a football star at St. Thomas Aquinas High School in Fort Lauderdale.

While at St. Thomas Aquinas High School, Irvin was heavily recruited by the University of Miami to play for the Miami Hurricanes, one of the top collegiate football programs in the nation.

University of Miami

At the University of Miami, under coach Jimmy Johnson, Irvin set school records for career receptions (143), receiving yards (2,423 and later broken by Santana Moss), and touchdown receptions (26). He was a member of Miami's 1987 national championship team, and made one of the most legendary plays in school history that year, scoring on a 73-yard fourth-quarter touchdown pass from Steve Walsh that provided the margin of victory in Miami's triumph over archrival Florida State, which propelled them into the national championship game, the 1988 Orange Bowl, against the top-ranked Oklahoma Sooners.

In his junior year at the University of Miami in 1988, Irvin announced he was skipping his final year of college eligibility and declaring his eligibility for the 1988 NFL Draft.

University of Miami statistics

Professional career

Dallas Cowboys

1988 draft selection

Irvin was selected by the Dallas Cowboys as the 11th selection in the first round of the 1988 NFL Draft. He was the last first-round draft pick made by the Cowboys under the leadership of long-time general manager Tex Schramm, player personnel director Gil Brandt, and coach Tom Landry (Schramm predicted that Irvin would accelerate the Cowboys' "return to the living"). Irvin became the first rookie receiver in Cowboys' history to start a season opener in 20 years, in which he caught his first career touchdown. He also caught 3 touchdown passes in the Cowboys' win over the Washington Redskins, one of only three wins that season and the final one of Landry's career. He finished the season leading the NFC with a 20.4 yards per catch average.

1989 and 1990 seasons

While reunited with his college coach Jimmy Johnson, the Cowboys' misfortunes continued the following year as they finished with a 1–15 record, the worst in franchise history, while injuries limited Irvin to only six games, after he was on a pace to gain more than 1,000 receiving yards, until tearing the anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee against the San Francisco 49ers and being placed on the injured reserve list. The injury prevented him from playing until the fourth game of the 1990 season, but he did not register his first catch until the seventh game and finished the season with just 20 receptions for 413 yards, but also averaged 20.7-yards per catch.

Before the injury, Irvin was nearly traded to the Los Angeles Raiders to help bring talent to the Cowboys and potentially pair Irvin up with Tim Brown, but Raiders owner Al Davis essentially talked Johnson out of the trade by saying, "You sure you want to do that? Who is going to catch passes for you?". This led to Johnson trading the only other option he felt the team had as trade bait, Herschel Walker, in what would become the Herschel Walker trade.

In 1990, under the strength of players such as Jay Novacek, Troy Aikman, and Emmitt Smith, the team began to improve, finishing the season with a 7–9 record, and posting an 11–5 record in 1991.

1991 season

Irvin was a major reason for their playoff season of 1991, finishing with 93 receptions (second in the league), 1,523 receiving yards (led the league), 8 receiving touchdowns and set a franchise record with seven 100-yard games. He made the All-Pro team that year and was selected to the first of five consecutive Pro Bowls.

1992 and 1993 seasons

In 1992 and 1993, Irvin was a key player on the Cowboys' Super Bowl teams. In 1994, he enjoyed another stellar campaign with his fourth consecutive Pro Bowl season, but that year the Cowboys lost to the San Francisco 49ers in the NFC Championship Game. For his part, however, Irvin had one of the most productive games in NFL playoff history, with 12 catches for an NFC championship record 192 yards and two touchdowns.

One of his greatest performances was in Super Bowl XXVII (1993), where he caught seven passes for 114 yards and two touchdowns. His two touchdowns catches were both in the second quarter and occurred in a span of just 18 seconds, the fastest pair of touchdowns ever scored by one player in Super Bowl history. He also became only the second player ever to score 2 touchdowns in one quarter of a Super Bowl, after Washington Redskins wide receiver Ricky Sanders in Super Bowl XXII.


Irvin was also a key contributor in the Cowboys' victories in Super Bowl XXVIII (1994) and Super Bowl XXX (1996), recording five receptions for 66 yards in the first one, and five receptions for 76 yards in the second.

His best season was in 1995, when he set franchise records for receptions (111) and receiving yards (1,603), while also scoring 10 touchdowns and setting an NFL record with 11 games with over 100 yards receiving. He added seven receptions for 100 yards and two touchdowns against the Green Bay Packers in the NFC Championship Game en route to the Cowboys' third Super Bowl win in a span of four seasons.

Irvin is the only player to play for each of the first four Cowboys coaches since the team has been owned by Jerry Jones (Landry, Johnson, Barry Switzer, and Chan Gailey). Irvin officially announced his retirement after Dave Campo became the fifth Cowboys coach, but Irvin never played on the field for Campo.

1997 and 1998 seasons

Recovered from his collar bone injury, Irvin returned to have solid years in 1997 and 1998.

Career-ending injury

During the fifth game of the 1999 season, on October 10, Irvin was tackled by Philadelphia Eagles defensive back Tim Hauck and driven head-first into the turf at Veterans Stadium in Philadelphia. He sustained a non-life-threatening cervical spine injury but was carted from the field. He was subsequently diagnosed with cervical spinal stenosis, which forced him into early retirement.[9][10]

Irvin was the last Tom Landry-coached player to retire from the NFL. Landry died on February 12, 2000, several months after Irvin's injury in Philadelphia but before he later announced that the injury was forcing his retirement and he would not return for the 2000 season.

Records and honors

Irvin's Dallas Cowboys number 88 displayed outside at the team's facilities
Irvin's Dallas Cowboys number 88 displayed outside at the team's facilities

University of Miami Sports Hall of Fame

In 2000, Irvin was inducted into the University of Miami Sports Hall of Fame.

NFL records

Irvin finished his career with 750 receptions (tied with Charlie Joiner for 30th all-time in the NFL) for 11,904 yards (21st all-time in the NFL) and 65 touchdowns. His 47 100-yard receiving games is eighth-most in NFL history, tied with Torry Holt. Irvin was selected to five Pro Bowls (two more than any other wide receiver in franchise history) and was named the MVP of the 1992 Pro Bowl (following the 1991 season) after catching eight passes for 125 yards and a touchdown in the NFC's 21–15 triumph. Irvin was a key playmaker for the Dallas Cowboys that won 6 division titles and three Super Bowls.

As part of Dallas' starting lineup on offense, Irvin was a consistent force to be reckoned with in the regular season but also excelled in the playoffs, where his six career 100-yard receiving games are just two shy of the NFL record held by Jerry Rice, who had eight such games. Irvin's 87 postseason receptions place him second in NFL playoff history behind Rice, who had 151, and Irvin's 1,315 post-season receiving yards ranks second to Rice, who recorded 2,245 post-season yards.

From 1991 through 1998, Irvin recorded 1,000-yard seasons in all but one year, racking up an impressive 10,265 yards over an eight-year span. Along the way, the Cowboys made four straight appearances in the NFC Championship Game (1992–1995) and captured three Super Bowl championships with back-to-back wins over the Buffalo Bills in Super Bowl XXVII and Super Bowl XXVIII, and the Pittsburgh Steelers in Super Bowl XXX.

Dallas Cowboys Ring on Honor

Along with his former Cowboy teammates Troy Aikman and Emmitt Smith, Irvin was inducted into the Dallas Cowboys Ring of Honor on September 19, 2005.

Texas Sports Hall of Fame

Irvin was one of three former NFL players with Cowboys ties selected for induction into the 2007 class of the Texas Sports Hall of Fame, all of whom were inducted at a February 2008 ceremony in Waco, Texas.[11] The other two were Jim Ray Smith of the Cleveland Browns, who finished his career with the Cowboys (1963–64), and Ray Childress, a five-time Pro Bowl defensive end for the Houston Oilers who wrapped up his NFL career with the Cowboys in 1996.

Florida All-Century Team

In 2007, Irvin was named to Florida High School Athletic Association's All-Century Team that listed the Top 33 football players in the state of Florida's 100-year history of high school football.

Pro Football Hall of Fame

Irvin became eligible for induction to the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2005. He was selected in his third year of eligibility, on February 3, 2007, alongside Gene Hickerson, Bruce Matthews, Thurman Thomas, Charlie Sanders, and Roger Wehrli. He was formally inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame during the Hall of Fame's August 4, 2007 induction ceremony in Canton, Ohio.

On August 4, 2007, Irvin was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame, delivering a tearful acceptance speech in which he referenced both his life as a football player and the many mistakes he has made in his life. His speech has been praised by many NFL commentators as heartfelt, including those who had been inclined to dislike him.[12]

On October 14, 2007, Irvin accepted his Hall of Fame ring at Texas Stadium during halftime of the Cowboys–New England Patriots game. In his speech, he proposed to Commissioner Roger Goodell that all drafted rookies will have a tour of the Pro Football Hall of Fame to better understand their football history.[13]


At 6'2" and 207 pounds, Irvin was a big, physical receiver who manhandled cornerbacks and often was able to make tough catches in defensive traffic. In part because of Irvin's ability to push off the defender with such ease, the NFL eventually changed its rules to adjust to wide receivers who emulated Irvin's physical style.

Irvin was a vocal, emotional leader who set every significant career receiving mark in Cowboys history, including catches and receiving yards. At the time of his retirement, he owned or was tied for 20 team receiving records. In November 2008, his Cowboys teammate Daryl Johnston said, "Michael was the hardest working guy on our team. He was a guy who made some wrong decisions, but he never took anything public, and he never spoke out against anyone on our team. He wasn't a problem. He was more of an inspiration."

Irvin has high regard for players from "The U," as he likes to call the University of Miami, including Frank Gore, Edgerrin James, and others.[14]

NFL career statistics

Won the Super Bowl
Led the league
Bold Career high

Regular season

NFL career statistics
Year Team Games Receiving Rushing
GP GS Rec Yds Avg Lng TD Att Yds Avg Lng TD
1988 DAL 14 10 32 654 20.4 61 5 1 2 2.0 2 0
1989 DAL 6 6 26 378 14.5 65 2 1 6 6.0 6 0
1990 DAL 12 7 20 413 20.7 61 5 0 0 0.0 0 0
1991 DAL 16 16 93 1,523 16.4 66 8 0 0 0.0 0 0
1992 DAL 16 14 78 1,396 17.9 87 7 1 -9 -9.0 -9 0
1993 DAL 16 16 88 1,330 15.1 61 7 2 6 3.0 9 0
1994 DAL 16 16 79 1,241 15.7 65 6 0 0 0.0 0 0
1995 DAL 16 16 111 1,603 14.4 50 10 0 0 0.0 0 0
1996 DAL 11 11 64 962 15.0 61 2 0 0 0.0 0 0
1997 DAL 16 16 75 1,180 15.7 55 9 0 0 0.0 0 0
1998 DAL 16 15 74 1,057 14.3 51 1 1 1 1.0 1 0
1999 DAL 4 4 10 167 16.7 37 3 0 0 0.0 0 0
Career 159 147 750 11,904 15.9 87 65 6 6 1.0 9 0

Personal life

Fabricated sexual assault allegation against Irvin

In 1996, as the Cowboys prepared to play the Carolina Panthers in the NFC Divisional Playoff game, media reports stated that Irvin and teammate Erik Williams, while under the influence of cocaine, had sexually assaulted a Dallas Cheerleader, Nina Shahravan, and, with a gun to her head, videotaped the interaction.

Despite Williams' and Irvin's denials of the allegations, the story largely overshadowed the game, which the Cowboys lost. The accuser was later proven to have fabricated the entire incident. She recanted her story, pled guilty to perjury and filing a false police report, and was sentenced to 90 days in jail and a fine.[15] In the game against Carolina, Irvin was injured in the opening minutes and did not return.

1998 scissorgate

On July 29, 1998, Irvin allegedly assaulted fellow Cowboys offensive lineman Everett McIver. The initial dispute stemmed from Irvin demanding that McIver vacate a barber's chair so that Irvin would not have to wait for a haircut. McIver and Irvin soon began a brawl in the shop with fellow Cowboy Leon Lett attempting to break it up.

During the course of the dispute, Irvin grabbed a pair of scissors and stabbed McIver in the neck, barely missing his carotid artery. Cowboys owner Jerry Jones reportedly brokered a six-figure settlement between Irvin and McIver in exchange for McIver's silence and to prevent McIver from pursuing criminal charges against Irvin.[16]


In June 2001, a year following his NFL retirement, Irvin was arrested for felony cocaine possession.[17] Irvin was in a Dallas apartment with an unrelated woman, and neither answered the door when police drug task force agents arrived with a search warrant. Police then entered the apartment forcibly, finding drugs. Irvin and the woman were placed under arrest, though charges against Irvin were later dropped.

On November 25, 2005, Irvin was pulled over in Plano, Texas for speeding. Irvin was arrested on an outstanding warrant on an unpaid speeding ticket in Irving, Texas, and was also cited for misdemeanor possession of drug paraphernalia after police searched his car and found a pipe and plastic bags with marijuana residue.[18] Irvin was arrested for a Class C misdemeanor. He was later released on bond.

On December 1, 2005, in response to his arrest, ESPN suspended Irvin for the Sunday and Monday night Countdown shows on December 4 and 5, 2005.[19] He returned to both shows with no mention or consequence of the past incident.

2007 sexual assault allegation

On July 4, 2007, Irvin was accused of sexual assault while he was at the Seminole Hard Rock Casino in Hollywood, Florida. Charges were never filed, but a civil suit was filed against him in 2010.[20] Irvin filed a $100 million defamation countersuit, which was dropped when the case was settled out of court in January 2011.[21]

Victim of alleged 2009 carjacking attempt

On January 12, 2009, Irvin claimed he was a victim of a possible carjacking attempt while stopped at a light in Dallas. He filed a police report claiming that two men flashed a gun at him but eventually drove away after commenting that they were Cowboys fans.[22] Dallas police suspended their investigation two weeks later, stating that Irvin had not cooperated in the investigation and that they could not proceed without his cooperation.[23]

2017 sexual assault investigation

On March 22, 2017, Fort Lauderdale police investigated Irvin for allegedly sexually assaulting a woman in Florida. Irvin denied the allegations.[24][25] On July 24, the Broward County State Attorney's Office announced they had closed the investigation and would not charge Irvin in the case.[26][27][28]


In a November 2006 radio interview on Dan Patrick's radio show, Irvin joked that Dallas Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo's athletic ability may have been due to African-American heritage and jokingly remarked that Romo's maternal relatives might have been involved with "slave brothers".[29] Irvin later apologized and said, "this is how I joke around with Romo when we're playing basketball. There's a difference from me the player and me the broadcaster".[30]

On February 17, 2007, during the late edition of SportsCenter, ESPN announced that Irvin was no longer with the network. ESPN Communications Vice President Josh Krulewitz said, "We thank Michael for his contributions to ESPN and wish him well." However, eleven months later, in January 2008, Irvin rejoined ESPN as a host on ESPN Radio owned and operation station KESN (103.3 FM) in Dallas, hosting The Michael Irvin Show. This locally-aired program ended on February 5, 2010, and Irvin was let go after his contract expired.[31] An ESPN spokesman cited declining ratings and that news of a lawsuit filed against Irvin for a 2007 incident "simply expedited the situation".[32]

On an February 2017 episode of The Rich Eisen Show, Irvin admitted to having snuck out of the locker room during the halftime of Super Bowl XXVII to watch Michael Jackson perform.[33]

Entertainment career

Irvin (right) with NFL Network, 2010
Irvin (right) with NFL Network, 2010

Irvin was a co-star in the 2005 remake of The Longest Yard, starring Adam Sandler and Chris Rock. Irvin also guest starred in Sandler's film Jack & Jill, which was released on November 11, 2011. He was one of the "Pros" on an episode of Pros vs. Joes, which pitted former professional athletes against average people. He was the host of 4th and Long, a football-themed reality series which aired on Spike TV. The winner, Jesse Holley, earned a spot at the Dallas Cowboys' training camp.[34][35] Irvin has a supporting role in the 2017 basketball drama Slamma Jamma as a sleazy sports agent.

In 2011, Irvin spoke with Out magazine about his homosexual older brother, who died of stomach cancer in 2006. He claimed his initial feelings of homophobia in relation to his brother led to womanizing during his playing days but eventual acceptance and feelings of love toward his older brother initiated his understanding for people with difficulty sharing their circumstances.[7]

In August 2011, officials from the Elite Football League of India announced that Irvin would be among the primary investors and advisers for the league. Other prominent backers included former Chicago Bears head coach Mike Ditka, former Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Ron Jaworski, and NFL linebacker Brandon Chillar.[36][37]


  1. ^ "'Triplets' honored: Aikman, Emmitt, Irvin in Dallas' Ring". ESPN.com. September 20, 2005.
  2. ^ Tallent, Aaron (February 18, 2022). "25 Greatest Wide Receivers in NFL History". AthlonSports.com. Archived from the original on April 5, 2022. Retrieved August 16, 2022.
  3. ^ Patuto, Greg (May 15, 2020). "Ranking The 20 Greatest NFL Wide Receivers Of All Time". ClutchPoints. Archived from the original on February 7, 2022. Retrieved August 16, 2022.
  4. ^ Markarian, Jerry (April 27, 2022). "The 10 Best NFL Wide Receivers Of All Time, Ranked". TheSportster. Archived from the original on June 27, 2022. Retrieved August 16, 2022.
  5. ^ "Dancing With The Stars Season 9 Cast". Archived from the original on August 19, 2009. Retrieved August 17, 2009.
  6. ^ Joyce Eng (August 17, 2009). "Dancing with the Stars 2009 Season 9 Cast Revealed!". TVGuide.com. Archived from the original on August 18, 2009. Retrieved August 17, 2009.
  7. ^ a b Zeigler, Sid. "Michael Irvin: The Playmaker Preaches". Out Magazine. Retrieved July 14, 2011.
  8. ^ "Michael Irvin College Stats - College Football at Sports-Reference.com". College Football at Sports-Reference.com.
  9. ^ "Irvin Makes Retirement Official". CBS News.
  10. ^ Staff, From; Reports, Wire (May 24, 2000). "Report Says Irvin to Retire Because of Spinal Condition" – via LA Times.
  11. ^ "Cowboys' Pressure Sacks Seahawks". Dallascowboys.com. November 27, 2008. Archived from the original on March 6, 2008. Retrieved November 28, 2008.
  12. ^ "Michael Irvin: 2007 Hall of Fame enshrinement speech". Sports.espn.go.com. August 5, 2007. Retrieved November 28, 2008.
  13. ^ "Irvin's HOF project". NFL.com. Retrieved November 28, 2008.
  14. ^ Horn, Barry (November 11, 2005). "Comment on Eagles another sign Irvin is go-to guy in a new field". The Dallas Morning News website. Retrieved November 28, 2008.
  15. ^ Sam Howe Verhovek (January 13, 1997). "A Woman's False Accusation Prompts Reflection". The New York Times. Retrieved November 19, 2014.
  16. ^ The Associated Press (August 10, 1998). "N.F.L.: ROUNDUP -- DALLAS; McIver Was Paid For Silence, Paper Says". The New York Times. Retrieved June 8, 2017.
  17. ^ "Irvin arrested on charge of cocaine possession". Espn.go.com. June 18, 2001. Retrieved March 11, 2009.
  18. ^ "Irvin: pipe belonged to friend, not brother". Sports.espn.go.com. November 19, 2005. Retrieved November 28, 2008.
  19. ^ "Irvin won't appear on ESPN shows this weekend". Sports.espn.go.com. December 1, 2005. Retrieved November 28, 2008.
  20. ^ "Broward prosecutors decline to charge Irvin in rape investigation". Miami Herald. February 24, 2010. Retrieved February 24, 2010.
  21. ^ "Report: Michael Irvin suit settled". ESPNDallas.com. January 28, 2011. Retrieved November 1, 2013.
  22. ^ Michael Irvin: Would-Be Carjackers Recognized Me NBC-DFW, January 12, 2009
  23. ^ Police Halt Investigation on Irvin Case SI.com, January 29, 2009
  24. ^ Grautski, Amara (April 4, 2017). "Michael Irvin says surveillance footage will prove his innocence in sexual assault investigation: 'Nothing happened'". The New York Daily News. Retrieved April 5, 2017.
  25. ^ Trischitta, Linda (April 5, 2017). "In TV interview, Michael Irvin denies rape allegation, says he's a longtime, platonic friend of accuser". The Sun-Sentinel.
  26. ^ Spencer, Terry (July 24, 2017). "State attorney: No sex assault charges for Michael Irvin". ABC News. Associated Press. Retrieved August 4, 2017.
  27. ^ George, Brandon (July 24, 2017). "Michael Irvin won't be charged with sexual assault in Florida case". Dallas Morning News. Retrieved August 4, 2017.
  28. ^ "Michael Irvin won't be charged with sexual assault in Florida case". July 24, 2017.
  29. ^ "Michael Irvin's Tony Romo Comments, Revisited". Mondesishouse.blogspot.com. November 22, 2006. Retrieved November 28, 2008.
  30. ^ "Irvin on comments: 'Inappropriate and insensitive'". Sports.espn.go.com. November 28, 2006. Retrieved November 28, 2008.
  31. ^ Wilonksy, Robert (February 5, 2010). "Michael Irvin Out at ESPN's Dallas Radio Station. His Replacements: Ben and Skin". Unfair Park. Dallas Observer.
  32. ^ Horn, Barry (February 5, 2010). "Michael Irvin out ESPN 103.3; Ben & Skin are in". The Dallas Morning News. Archived from the original on February 8, 2010.
  33. ^ "Irvin left locker room at Super Bowl to watch MJ". NFL.com. Retrieved February 2, 2017.
  34. ^ Dehnart, Andy (January 22, 2009). "Michael Irvin-hosted Reality Competition Winner Will Join Dallas Cowboys Training Camp". reality blurred. Retrieved April 5, 2017.
  35. ^ "4th and Long Official Show Webpage". Spike. Archived from the original on February 23, 2011. Retrieved April 5, 2017.
  36. ^ "Topic Galleries". Chicago Tribune.[permanent dead link]
  37. ^ "American football coming to India?". Dawn. August 6, 2011. Retrieved April 5, 2017.