Forget what you think of Michael Irvin's off the field misunderstandings and misconceptions.
One thing that has never been disputed is the man's work ethic. The man's dedication. The man's desire to excel at whatever he does. On and off the field.
Well, as his induction ceremony approaches, The Playmaker is practicing just as hard and with as much fervor as he did during his playing days.
Look at him here. See for yourself how hard he's still trying: notebook open, pen in hand, phone to the ear for an hour now with his speech coach — or "voice-awareness teacher" — as Irvin calls him. Today's session involves some detail work on his Pro Football Hall of Fame speech, to be delivered Saturday in Canton, Ohio.
Once again, Irvin proves his commitment to excellence. His desire to present the best image possible to football fans is inextinguishable.
"Per-i-pher-al," Irvin, 41, says over the phone to the man in Los Angeles. "Is that better?" He listens. "And how was I saying it?" He frowns. "OK, per-i-pher-al. Pher. I've got to put that on my word list." Irvin flips the notebook to a section full of words or phrases — "depth," "my sons and me" — that constitutes his playbook now.
We commend Michael for his efforts to please those that will listen to his speech.
But we are saddened at the same time.
A man that left his heart on the field. A man that gave all he had to give to football, his team mates and his fans, is now a man that feels so much pressure from the mainstream media that he is forced to change the way he speaks.
This is just another example of the Negro athlete never being "good enough". The man has been selected for enshrinement in the football hall of fame as a testament to his ability, heart and desire. As a testament to his honesty. As a testament to the reality of who Michael Irvin is.
Unfortunately, the reality of who Michael Irvin is must be tempered with the reality of what the mainstream media expects the Negro Athlete to be.
But you don't hear a word of complaint from Michael.
He's too busy working hard on his annunciation.