Former star wide receiver Michael Irvin put together an illustrious career that was spent entirely with the Dallas Cowboys. During his time with the franchise, Irvin became one of the league’s best players at his position while being a central piece to the puzzle that helped guide the team to three Super Bowl wins. Irvin is regarded as an all-time great wide receiver that saw his legacy cemented behind a Pro Football Hall of Fame induction nearly a decade after his last NFL game. Despite him putting forth an impressive career, it all came crashing down to a disheartening end.
Michael Irvin’s Hall of Fame Career
Entering the NFL, Michael Irvin had plenty of buzz around him after a strong collegiate career at Miami.
Irvin dealt with injuries early in his first couple of years in the league but took off in his fourth season by posting his first of seven 1,000-receiving yard campaigns. That saw him play a vital 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.
Irvin truly made his mark in the playoffs as he earned his “The Playmaker” nickname as he put up historic numbers in those situations. He pushed his way to second all-time in franchise history with 64 receiving touchdowns, and first with 11,904 receiving yards. Irvin’s 47 games with at least 100 receiving yards are eighth-most in NFL history. He also finished his career ranking second in playoff history behind fellow Hall of Famer Jerry Rice in several categories with six 100-receiving yard performances, 87 receptions, and 1,315 receiving yards.
Irvin experienced much success on the field, but his impressive 12-year career came to a disappointing halt.
Michael Irvin’s Career-Ending Injury
Michael Irvin had firmly established himself as one of the game’s best wide outs in his first 11 seasons in the league.
Irvin had gotten off to a slow start to begin the 1999 season that were off from the pace he established through his career with more than 950 receiving yards in eight straight years while surpassing 1,000 receiving yards seven times over that span. However, his career all came tumbling down in the fifth game that year as he suffered a cervical spinal cord injury against the Philadelphia Eagles.
It looked like a typical tackle as moved past cornerback Bobby Taylor before he was hit in the neck area by Tim Hauck, which led to him landing face first into the turf that put his neck and shoulders in a tough spot. Irvin laid motionless on the ground for several minutes, which he later revealed left him feeling paralyzed during that short span.
That devastating situation left Irvin in tears three days as he described the feeling of being able to use his arms or legs that led him to think he would never hold his son again.
Michael Irvin eyed comeback, but forced into retirement
Michael Irvin’s career was immediately jeopardized following that severe neck injury, but that didn’t come without a desire to continue playing.
However, Irvin’s quest back to the field was halted as the test from the injury showed that he had suffered a herniated disc, but more importantly that he was born with a narrow spinal cord. It was that condition that led to retirement as it was significant concern from doctors as it put him a higher risk of serious injury if he were to receive another hit to the head or neck.
It marked a crushing close to Irvin’s career that could have seen him add to his impressive tenure in the NFL.