Hall of Fame wide receiver Michael Irvin said he jumped at the opportunity to provide some instruction to young NFL players at Larry Fitzgerald's workouts at the University of Minnesota.
Fitzgerald, the Cardinals All-Pro wide receiver and Holy Angels graduate, invited players from around the league to workout and train in the Twin Cities during July. He also has former players fly in to provide insight into playing wide receiver at the highest level. Jerry Rice and Cris Carter helped out last summer. Irvin is visiting this week.
"I want them to understand that even though you’ve worked all your life playing this game shoulders down, this game truly is played shoulders up," Irvin said. "That’s where the great ones are. The great ones are playing this game shoulders up. They are taking it and dissecting it and breaking it down for every little thing that can drain out of it."
Irvin had some interesting thoughts on Vikings quarterback Brett Favre and wide receiver Sidney Rice. Like everyone else, Irvin fully expects Favre to return for his 20th season.
"Favre is not leaving this young talent," Irvin said. "We focus too much on Brett’s age instead of the team’s youth when you’re talking about Brett. Brett does what he does with that young talented team around him. You know he’s not leaving that. The stringing along is not as intense as it used to be so he might as well [just say] ‘I’m coming back. It’s time to let it go and come on back.’
"You can’t blame him. I tell people all the time: Don’t be stupid. Don’t allow your ego to make you walk away from the greatest thing you will ever experience. The unity of walking onto a football field with 52 other guys, you have one purpose, one goal and one heartbeat. Wow, what a feeling. You make them drag you off the field. You … make … them ... drag … you … off … the … field. You will never have this again in your life."
Irvin also challenged Rice to follow up his first Pro Bowl season with a stellar 2010 season. Irvin talked about the challenge of staying at that elite level for a wide receiver.
"Maintain on a different fear," Irvin said. "The first fear was, 'I’ve got to prove that I belong. I have to go out and all my workouts [say], 'I’m going to prove that I belong. Nobody believes in me.’ OK, you’ve proven that. Now, you’ve got to prove that you belong to stay on top. That I am here to stay on top, and that’s a different monster. Now you become Mr. X. All things come your way. Do you like attention? Here it comes. The good thing about Sidney Rice is he has Percy Harvin with him and Bernard [Berrian]. They can make some plays on the other side.
"But [Rice] still has to be the main man. Here lies the problem. Nobody cares, nobody wants to hear that the safety is rolling over on you. They want to know, why are you not making the same plays? ‘Well, I’m getting double teamed.’ No, we don’t want to hear that. Don’t tell us how rocky the waters are. Why are you not docking the ship? That’s all we want to know. If he doesn’t dock the ship, you guys are going to be writing about it and I’m going to be talking about it. The object is to dock the ship. It becomes a little more difficult when you’re the main guy and people are game-planning you."