Former Dallas Cowboys wide receiver, three time Super Bowl Champion and current NFL Network analyst Michael Irvin had his share of problems and criticism for some of his actions as he was becoming a man during his college days at the University of Miami and early in his career in Dallas, but there is no doubt those experiences gave him insights that are invaluable in helping fathers all across the United States connect with their children and help raise them to be productive during their lives.
Despite his busy schedule, Michael speaks all across the country about how important it is for fathers to make time to be there for their children. He finds a way to be in attendance at almost all of his son’s football games. His son, Michael Irvin plays wide receiver for Prestonwood, a private school in Plano, Texas in the Dallas metroplex.
My high school alma mater, Gilmer High School played Prestonwood in Gilmer this past season in non-district action. Michael was there for his son in our small town of 5,000 and had his camcorder and a tripod and shot video of the game. Shortly after the game, he was back on a plane headed for his next NFL Network assignment.
We had a chance to visit with Michael on Monday afternoon during Media Day festivities for the Super Bowl and asked him how he managed to juggle everything and watch his son play during high school football season.
“I am trying to be the father that God has called me to be, and my job as a father is to prepare him for his journey ahead, and I understand as a man what that journey is. God has laid fatherlessness on my heart. Look at the numbers when we look at fatherlessness. When we start talking about my son, I just want to be on my post. I travel and speak all off-season about this. 85% of all runaways and homeless are from fatherless homes, and a lot of the incarcerated are from fatherless homes, so I understand the importance of having a father there. You know, my father, I lost him at an early age, so I want to be there, but I want to encourage all fathers to be on their post because it is important for all fathers to be on their post.”
“You know, it is a difficult thing when you’re trying to balance things and also being there for the family. One of the things I always talk about when I am traveling is one of things we need to be conscious of and cautious with is that we don’t allow our old wounds to create new wounds in our kids. Let me explain what I am talking about. One day my kid said to me, ‘Dad, are you going to ever watch me play a game?’ I said son, you’ve got to understand why I stay so busy working. I said I don’t want you to grow up like I did. I grew up without anything. He said, ‘Okay, I hear you, but I’m looking around at this mansion we live in, so what are you talking about?’ So you see, it was my pain of not having anything that turned me into a workaholic and I’m about to put a different pain on him because he’s going to say ‘My dad wasn’t there.’ I thank God from his lips to my ears, so I said let me turn this thing around and make sure that I am giving him all the time he needs because it is a special thing. (There was) Something I read that I thought was beautiful and well said. It said you can give kids rules and restrictions, but without relationships, it is going to lead to rebellion. So, you have to have that relationship to make sure you set those guidelines and govern them with love so that the police won’t govern them with law.”
It is very obvious in talking with Michael that he learned a lot of valuable lessons from the “school of hard knocks”, and everyone who hears him speak about the importance of being there for their kids during their formative years are given some wise advice from a good man who is doing what he believes God has called him to do. The world would definitely be a better place if we had more caring men like Michael Irvin who cared enough to try to help others.