Saturday, February 03, 2007

Bob's Blog Rewind - Irvin HOF discussion

Today is Hall of Fame Day. In a few hours, we will know the fate of Michael Irvin.

I think he gets in, but I will not be shocked either way. Ultimately, he is in the hall of fame, but he may have to wait a few years.

Anyway, on the show Friday, we got to talking about his worthiness vs. Art Monk or Drew Pearson or anyone else.

So, here I shall reprint my blog thoughts from his first year of eligiblilty, which was in Jacksonville for Super Bowl 39.


Did Michael Irvin get the shaft from the Hall of Fame? It appears everyone in Dallas thinks so. But did he really?

I believe in the Anti-Cowboys bias if that means I believe Cliff Harris, Rayfield Wright, and Drew Pearson deserve to be in. But I do not believe that Irvin is a victim of this. Separate issues. He will get in, but this is about many voters (and I tend to agree) who suggest that to be a first-ballot hall of famer, you must live in a near-perfect manner off the field. Or, at the very least, do not bring shame to your sport and your franchise off the field.

Since finding people who think Irvin was ripped off is not difficult, allow me to show a few other opinions. Here is Peter King

Is there a Cowboys conspiracy? Call me naïve. I don't see it. I don't ever hear a peer in that room talking crap about Dallas players, or saying the Cowboys don't deserve the credit they get in league history. But let's remember seven guys from their nine-year run of five early Super Bowls are in the Hall, and I'm not counting short-timers Herb Adderley, Mike Ditka and Forrest Gregg, even though they played for the Cowboys in Super Bowls. The seven: Tom Landry, Tex Schramm, Bob Lilly, Mel Renfro, Roger Staubach, Randy White and Tony Dorsett. To give this some perspective, the 49ers were in five Super Bowls during a 14-year span, and have had four guys (Bill Walsh, Montana, Ronnie Lott, Young) make the Hall. Remember, Troy Aikman and Smith will certainly get in during the next five Hall votes, and Irvin is likely to get in someday. That would be 10 Hall of Famers for one franchise, and except for the largesse of the Steelers' Hall contingent, I don't see how the Cowboys are getting jobbed.

Also, has a similar rant on this:


Although Cowboys receiver Michael Irvin wisely had opted (so far) to go Sgt. Schulz on ESPN's Super Bowl pre-game show regarding his first-ballot Hall of Fame snub, we've got a little more to add to our take from Saturday as to why Irvin shouldn't have expected to get in.

Our initial focus in putting Irvin's failure to qualify on the first try was on the other receivers who have made it and, more importantly, when they made it.

If Irvin had climbed the wall this year, he would have joined Raymond Berry and Steve Largent as the only receivers to get in on the first try. But Berry and Largent, unlike Irvin, retired with most of the career receiving records in their back pockets.

Irvin supporters might have assumed that Michael's combination of solid career numbers plus three Super Bowl rings would be enough to enable him to join Berry and Largent. If so, they failed to take into account another guy who could make the same argument -- and who is still knocking on Canton's door.

Art Monk. Redskins.

Monk has more catches than Irvin.

Monk has more yards than Irvin.

Monk has more touchdowns than Irvin.

Monk also has three rings.

And while Irvin got his triple blingage as a member of the so-called triplets, with Troy Aikman throwing the passes and Emmitt Smith moving the chains, Monk earned his trio of trophies with Joe Theismann, Doug Williams, and Mark Rypien throwing the passes, and John Riggins, Timmy Smith, and Earnest Byner/Gerald Riggs moving the chains.

And as Irvin was bypassed on his first try, Monk retired nearly a full decade ago.

In our view, Monk's wait likely has been fueled by the fact that he kept a low profile, during his career and after it. Monk wasn't showy or flashy -- or coked up or ho'ed up. Today, Monk isn't on the television screen wearing $5,000 suits, flashing a million-dollar smile, and using two-bit verbiage.

So Monk waits. And if Monk ends up waiting longer than Irvin, the irony will be that Monk's downfall was his decision to live his life in a manner that upholds the values that any Hall of Fame is supposed to endorse.

What's the message that this sends to all current and future players? Be loud and controversial. Sin big. Repent even bigger.

Because while guys like Joe Buck always will rant about wideouts with look-at-me tendencies, the sad reality might be that, if a receiver doesn't bring attention to himself, no one else is going to do it for him.

Again, I find Irvin to be a great player who will be in Canton soon. But, I am just trying to get the point across that #1) it is not a cinch and #2) outside of Dallas, Irvin and Monk are comparable and #3) what you do off the field matters.

People then ask, if what you do off the field matters, what about Lawrence Taylor? To which I answer, in that case, if you are the greatest to ever play your position, we might be able to overlook a drug scandal. If this is Jerry Rice, ok. But Irvin, while being a great player, will never be confused as the greatest WR ever.


I should have known that suggesting a Cowboys star might not have been shafted by the Hall of Fame would be about as popular as Bruce Willis wearing an offensive sandwich board in Harlem in Die Hard: With a Vengeance , but that is what I do, so I can take it.

To reset my views, Irvin is a Hall of Famer. And yes, there is a Anti-Cowboys HOF bias. But, the bias does not apply to Irvin, and he likely is not a first-ballot player. Incidentally, I failed to mention Bob Hayes yesterday on my list of the deserving Cowboys who are not in Canton.

Now, on to some feedback and further discussion of Irvin: Hall of Fame or NO!

This from Brian:


I have compared his stats to hall of famers.
Please explain why he didn't make it?

Michael Irvin: 750 receptions, 11,904 yards, 65 TDs
Lynn Swann stats: 336 receptions, 5,462 yards, 51 TDs
John Stallworth stats: 537 receptions for 8,723 yards, 63 TDs
Charlie Joiner stats: 750 catches, 12,146 yards, 65 TDs.

So, I did a little of my own research to explain this:


I also took the liberty to compare a hall of famer's stats with a few modern day players.

Bob Waterfield

- HOF - 11,849 yards - 97 TD's 128 INT's - 50% completions

Trent Dilfer

- not quite HOF - 17,031 yards - 95 Td's 105 INT's - 55% completions

Jay Shroeder

- not quite - 20, 063 - 114 Td's - 108 INT's - 51% completions

Neil Lomax

- not quite - 22, 771 - 136 Td's - 90 INT's - 58% completions

My point is not to disagree with you about Irvin, but rather to point out that to compare players from different decades or eras with stats is misleading- too many rule changes, strategy changes, and all around football changes (length of season from 12 games to 14 and then to 16) to compare number for number- Give me Lynn Swann over Brett Perriman any day of the week, even though Perriman has better numbers...

Brett Perriman

Irvin will get in, but let's not forget it took Stallworth 8 years, and Swann 14. I suspect it will take Irvin less than 4.

Again, I understand that this will not help me with the Cowboys fans. But, if you can, please examine Irvin’s stats against other receivers in his era who you might not think are HOF caliber players:

The following numbers are the rankings among all-time WR’s:
Reed - 4th recepts - 6th yds - 10th TD’s – 227 games/87 TD’s - 13.9 per catch
Irvin - 16th recepts - 11th yds - 34th TD’s - 159 games/65 TD’s - 15.9 per catch
Ellard – 11th recepts – 5th yds – 34th TD’s – 228 games/65 TD’s – 16.9 per catch
C. Carter – 2nd recepts – 4th yds – 2nd TD’s – 234 games/130 TD’s – 12.6 per catch

I think I would take Irvin over all of these players except Carter, but couldn’t you make a debate for any one of them? Are they all HOFers? 1st ballot? Incidentally, I would also take Irvin over Art Monk (as I said yesterday), but you cannot tell me it is an absolute no-brainer.

Not at Irvin’s level statistically, but close enough to at least mention are Andre Rison, Sterling Sharpe, Drew Hill, Issac Bruce, Jimmy Smith. Has anyone even mentioned Irving Fryar? Take a look at his numbers sometime. In this era, many WRs have great numbers. That is why we think what separates Irvin from the field is leadership and rings. We have no way of measuring leadership. For instance, wasn’t Carter a great leader in handling Randy Moss? Wasn’t Art Monk a leader in his locker room?

And rings are what break the ties. Only Monk has similar jewelry, while Ellard, Carter, and Reed never won a ring. Of course, this is a very simplistic debating tool, as Reed can only wonder how many rings he might have if Scott Norwood could kick a clutch FG. Is it Reed’s fault he missed it? Apparently, if you think rings settle all debates.

Also, because I am really into this topic, I took the liberty of researching how long it generally takes a Wide Receiver to get into the Hall. There appears to be a lot of talk about Irvin not being admitted on his first ballot appearance, so let’s take a quick look at the 17 modern-era WR’s:

1st Ballot: Alworth, Berry, Fears, Largent, Mitchell, Pihos, and Warfield
2nd Ballot: C. Taylor and McDonald
3rd Ballot: Lofton
5th Ballot: Biletnikoff and Joiner
6th Ballot: Lavelli
8th Ballot: Maynard and Stallworth
14th Ballot: Swann
No record: Hirsch

So, of the 17, 7 went in on the first ballot. And some very impressive names waited 5 years or more. And don't forget, Stallworth and Swann have rings, too. 4 of them.

Mark sent this in:

So you mean to tell me that 750 catches 12,000 yards and 65 tds and 3 super bowl rings doesnt get you in the first time?? That includes missing 10 games in 89 for a knee injury and only playing 4 games in 99 before his career came to an end.

Is Brett Favre going to be penalized a year or two for being a drunk and being addicted to pain killers? Doubt it.

Mark is not the only one to play the Brett Favre card with me. I guess some suspect that I am a Packers fan who cannot bear to see Irvin in the Hall of Fame or something. Of course, that doesn't explain how I campaign for many Cowboys' induction into the HOF on a regular basis, but oh well. Here is my response:

do you seriously equate the two? one was arrested, and one turned himself in for becoming addicted to a drug prescribed by his team's trainers- I know you might be attacking my allegiance, but are you serious?

He responded:

Maybe that was a little off base but is Randy Moss going to be a first ballot Hall of Famer. Probably so. Is Ray Lewis?? Almost a guaranteed lock. Lawrence Taylor gets a pass because he was more dominant at his position. That is a crock! His rap sheet is alot longer than Irvins was or is. I just get sick that there is always an excuse to keep a Cowboy out of the hall of fame. Next year it will be Aikman didnt throw for enough yards or enough td's. And if by a miracle they let Aikman in ( he was a Cowboy you know) then that will just delay Irvin getting in. The again if you have ever just driven by Three Rivers Stadium you get inducted. I know Irvin will get in someday. It is just another way for the Hall to stick it to a Cowboy by making him wait.

And this from P1 Mike:

Hey Bob.

You have shown me a different view of the Irvin omission and I am coming around just a bit. The attached link shows the 15 finalists each year since 1970 and also shows how many times each person has been in the final 15.

First, it is interesting to note who got in the first time they were a finalist. The biggest of the big - Sanders, Elway, Dorsett, Staubach, Dickerson, Singletary, etc. Does Irvin's name really belong in the same conversation as those people? Probably not.

Second, take a look at the number of times some people have been a finalist. Some have been finalists year after year and still haven't gotten in while others were surprisingly finalists more than once before getting in - see Namath, Newsome (wweeeeelllllllll), Webster, Winslow, Riggins, Lofton, Biletnikoff, Csonka, etc. I'm not saying these guys should have been in the first time - it's just interesting to note that big names don't always get in right away.

Finally, in the last 10 years (not including this year) only 15 players (doesn't include coaches or old-timers) that were elected were finalists for the first time. Irvin's time will come. And for everyone that thinks he can't possible get in next year because of Aikman, 2 Cowboys have gone in together before (White, Dorsett in '94).

P1 Mike

Judging from my mail, I think this is a topic that gets people going...

So there you go. Just another way of looking at things on the Michael Irvin.

1 comment:

Unknown said...

I would like to see Lionel Taylor go in that list. He put some great numbers from the 6 All-pro years that he played in the AFL. He played from 1959-1968. He was the first AFL superstar. I think AFL teams could have beaten NFL teams as way back as 1960.