Irvin Awestruck By Induction

the end of his illustrious Cowboys career and thereafter. And while Irvin talks about his sons watching "footage of their daddy," meaning looking at different highlights of his career, he now understands they can find all the sordid stories of his past, too.

So when asked what this honor means, Irvin very seriously said, "It's very humbling and it is scary. I have such respect for (the Hall of Fame) and I know I've had issues, but I don't want to bring shame on this club.

"If I got to give any advice to a rookie, it's walk this Hall of Fame before you ever play the game. See what it means. I just have such great respect for it. I want to come back every year, walk in and be proud.

"I'm praying."

Now the day wasn't all this heavy. Thomas finished his session promising Irvin that he and the rest of them would be quick up there Saturday evening, "so you may have from 8 to 9 o'clock. You know how important it is for you and Jerry Jones and the Cowboys," the former Buffalo running back referencing the Cowboys owner presenting Irvin on Saturday.

John Madden, one of the enshrinees last year, told the story about how he credited Philadelphia's Bobby Taylor with shutting down Irvin one game, and how Irvin confronted him about what he had said on the air the next time the two met, the Cowboys wide receiver insisting Taylor had help over the top.

"And I said, 'So what?'" Madden recalled. "I told him, 'If you're the playmaker you say you are, then it doesn't matter what they do. If you're a playmaker, you make plays no matter if they have a guy over the top.'

"He said, 'Yeah, OK.'"

Irvin, too, was self-deprecating, talking about how it was meant to be for Troy Aikman to return to the Rose Bowl for Super Bowl XXVII to win the game's MVP and how it was meant to be for Emmitt Smith to win Super Bowl XXVIII's MVP in Atlanta, "which the closest a Super Bowl was going to be played to Pensacola, Fla.," Emmitt's hometown.

"Miami was supposed to be mine," Irvin said, referring to Super Bowl XXIX being played the next year just down the way from where he grew up in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., and where he went to school at the University of Miami. "And we go down 21 to San Francisco," in reference to the Cowboys turning the ball over their first three possessions in that 1994 NFC title game they would eventually lose to the Niners, 38-28, and their chance to win three consecutive Super Bowls for the first time in NFL history.

"It did not work out. I guess God said, 'I got you there, Michael. Let me give you this back.'"

So this all has been perfect. Instead of winning that MVP in Miami, Irvin learned of his Hall of Fame selection at this past February's Super Bowl in Miami, able to initially celebrate with all his family. And then this, his wife Sandi is with him, as are his four children, all his brothers and sisters, the Jones family, Jerry presenting him and a whole bunch of his teammates, including the likes of Aikman, Darren Woodson, Nate Newton, Erik Williams and a whole bunch more.

And while his father Walter isn't here, having passed away in 1983 before Irvin ever played a game for the Miami Hurricanes, his mother Stella is here all right, dressed in a spirited yellow suit and matching hat returning from the wives' annual fashion show.

"I always told Michael to be patient and wait and good things will come," Stella Irvin said of her most famous son. "I told him, if you want it, reach for it. Reach for the stars, and if you don't get it, and fall down, you get up and reach again.

"And I always told him, you have a short rope, that there were things he can't do and get away with it."

Irvin should have listened to his mother more closely. Because he did listen some.

Back 10, maybe 15 years ago, sitting in the locker room, just the two of us, Irvin said something that was never to be forgotten when discussing his drive and his motivation.

"I always believed, you should reach for the moon," Irvin said, "and just maybe you will end up simply grabbing the stars."

There is a lesson in there, and come to think about it, there are a lot of lessons to be learned from Irvin's career, one filled with so many ups and downs and

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