Irvin's Influence

Nov. 03, 2003
Nov. 03, 2003

Table of Contents
Nov. 3, 2003

Irvin's Influence

When he hired Michael Irvin for Sunday NFL Countdown in July,
ESPN executive vice president Mark Shapiro said the former
All-Pro receiver offered "closeness to the game, an engaging
personality and television experience." While you can argue that
Irvin's previous TV work didn't amount to much (basically he'd
been a regular on Fox Sports Net's Best Damn Sports Show Period),
he has, on Countdown, been a dramatic improvement over the surly
Sterling Sharpe, whose biggest asset was his ability to scream
louder than anyone else on the set. Personality has always been a
long suit for Irvin, and the self-proclaimed Playmaker has added
spice to the Sunday-morning show. He has been unafraid to
criticize some of the NFL's most revered players, saying earlier
this season that Packers quarterback Brett Favre could no longer
carry a team. "They still think Brett is the ultimate weapon,"
Irvin said. "He is not." When Irvin and Steve Young debated the
value of skill players versus offensive linemen, Irvin
unabashedly bashed the big men. "How hard is it," an amused Irvin
asked, "to run your body into somebody else's body?" As long as
ESPN keeps him away from sit-down interviews with players, in
which he usually comes off as little more than a back-slapping
ex-jock, Irvin's a good fit for the show.

This is an article from the Nov. 3, 2003 issue Original Layout

--Richard Deitsch