This is an article from the Dec. 21, 2015 issue
HISTORY OF HITS
The 49-year-old Hall of Fame wide receiver and NFL Network analyst grew up taking beatings from his older sisters; now he's concerned about the blows delivered on the field.
DAN PATRICK: Are you going to see the movie Concussion?
MICHAEL IRVIN: I don't think I'm going to go. I don't have time right now. I may see it on an airplane. I want the knowledge. I hate that [concussions] damage our game and we have all these people talking about them when we're doing all the things we're doing now to make the game safer. It's almost like people want to attack the game.
DP: What did you know going into the NFL [in 1988] about concussions?
MI: I knew absolutely nothing. We called them head dings. People ask me how many concussions I had. I tell them I don't know. I know I had a few head dings, which were really concussions.
DP: How concerned are you about the health [aspect] considering your quarterback in Dallas, Troy Aikman, had problems like so many others?
MI: I'm concerned. I'm concerned about what my good friend [former Cowboys running back] Tony Dorsett is going through. I'm concerned when I see what happened with Junior Seau. We're all concerned about it. That's why we're doing all the things we can do to make the game safe and better for everybody. Aside from the risks, I know the great benefits the game brings. It teaches you core values, how to work with others, how your success is tied to others. Those are the things you're going to need in business and family.
DP: Is it fair to say you couldn't afford to fail [in the NFL] because if you did, you had to go back home?
MI: If I failed and went back home [to Fort Lauderdale], that wouldn't have been disturbing. Everyone at home was already broke. What could they [say] to me? I couldn't fail because I had my family that I wanted to get out of the hellhole we were living in.
DP: How many kids were in your house growing up?
MI: Seventeen of us.
DP: How big was your house?
MI: Achoo! The size of a sneeze. We would have all the sisters staying in one room and all of the brothers staying in another room. I was the youngest at the time, so I got beat up a lot. We had only one fan, and when I would go in and steal the fan from the girls, they would beat me up.
DP: Your sisters beat you up?
MI: They beat me up quite a bit. We had boxes of cereal that were breakfast. I would come home after school and eat the cereal. When they would catch me they would beat me up. At the time, though, I would say the hits and the whuppings were worth the food. It helped me learn when I started saying, "I'll take the hit for the reception."
Panthers linebacker Luke Kuechly thinks some of the outfits his quarterback, Cam Newton, wears wouldn't really work for other players. "He can pull it off," Kuechly said. "Everything he walks in with, if you toss it on me or some of the other guys, people would [give] us weird looks." ... I asked Alabama running back and 2015 Heisman Trophy winner Derrick Henry if his car broke down near Auburn, would anyone help him? "[Auburn] players would help me," Henry said. "If it's just students, I don't think I'd get help." ... Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson told me that 2007 No. 1 draft pick JaMarcus Russell has the strongest arm he's ever seen. "I remember going to Manning Passing Academy in 10th grade with him and, from his knees, he threw the ball from the 40-yard line through the middle of the goalpost."