Hall of Famer Michael Irvin put together an illustrious NFL career that saw him experience much success with the Dallas Cowboys. He was a pivotal part of their Super Bowl run in the 1990s that helped cement him as one of the greatest wide receivers in league history. Despite that, Irvin still doesn’t have his No. 88 jersey retired by the Cowboys in the two decades it has been since he stepped away from the game. Dallas is the one prominent franchise that hasn’t gone the route of officially not retiring numbers. That may be the case, but Irvin is bothered by it one bit due to one particular reason.
Michael Irvin’s Hall of Fame career
Irvin played 12 seasons in the league, all with the Cowboys, where he was a significant part of the franchise’s success during his tenure. He was part of three Super Bowl-winning teams, selected to the Pro Bowl five times, two Second-Team All-Pro nods, and received one First-Team All-Pro selection.
It saw him surpass 1,000 receiving yards seven times, and more than 70 receptions on seven occasions. His 47 games with 100 or more receiving yards are eighth-most in league history.
That saw him push his way to second all-time in franchise history with 65 receiving touchdowns, and first with 11,904 receiving yards. Irvin earned his moniker “The Playmaker” in the playoff as he finished his career ranking second all-time in playoff history behind fellow Hall of Famer Jerry Rice in several categories such as six 100-receiving yard performances, 87 receptions, and 1,315 receiving yards.
Irvin saw his NFL career cut short in the fifth game of the 1999 season against the Philadelphia Eagles after suffering a cervical spinal cord injury. It didn’t take long for him to get into the Pro Football Hall of Fame as he was inducted as part of the 2007 class and is a member of the Cowboys’ Ring of Honor.
Michael Irvin doesn’t mind that No. 88 isn’t retired
That all begs the question why haven’t the Cowboys retired Irvin’s number yet as he’s more than met the criteria as a Hall of Famer player and a member of the franchise’s Ring of Honor.
Although the Cowboys haven’t gone the route of retiring numbers, it’s something that Irvin explained during an interview on The Rich Eisen Show that he isn’t mad about one bit.
“I don’t why I am the only person to see this way, but when they retire your number rafters they don’t look up or talk about that number until you leave time and go to eternity. During the middle of the game ‘well we lost Michael Irvin today.’ and they will show the number (and say) ‘ pray for his family. Let’s get back to the game.’ in three seconds. That’s all they give you.
“But when they put it on a receiver’s back when every time he makes a play on Sunday they say ‘oh that looks like Michael Irvin.’ If he drops a pass it’s ‘oh Michael Irvin wouldn’t have dropped that. I don’t have to wait to get my flowers when I die. I can get my flowers every NFL Sunday that you are on the field and I want my flowers while I’m living.”
In the time since he retired, three players have worn the jersey number with Dez Bryant, Antonio Bryant, and Jackie Harris. Bryant was the most notable as he donned his it during his entire eight-year stint with the franchise.
Irvin has the chance to relish his name being brought up daily with whenever a Cowboys player wears his No. 88 jersey, and that will once again be the case.
Ceedee Lamb will wear No. 88
Despite his initial desire to wear No. 10, Lamb was convinced to don No. 88 per the request of team owner Jerry Jones.
Lamb is highly regarded as one of the top talents from the 2020 draft class and has a chance to make a massive impact in the Cowboys’ passing game. He has tremendous shoes to fill with the No. 88 that not puts expectations from Irvin but also Bryant as both put up impressive numbers.
Nonetheless, Irvin will once again get his flowers while he’s living with another No. 88 in a Cowboys uniform.