All week at NBC Sports Philadelphia, we're debating the biggest villains in Philly sports history. Today we begin with Eagles. Here's Barrett Brooks' argument on why Michael Irvin is the biggest villain in the history of the Birds. You can vote here.
Damn that dreaded Dallas Cowboys star!
The Cowboys would be the ultimate villain to Eagles fans. But the one player who personified the Cowboys in the 90s was Michael Irvin.
Nicknamed “The Playmaker,” Irvin was the frontman for the Big Three. Troy Aikman, Emmit Smith, and the flamboyant Michael Irvin made the Cowboys the team to beat in the early '90s. They were the measuring rod of offenses. They controlled the pace of the game by running the ball with consistency, but when a big play was needed, Aikman would pull the trigger, going to the “Playmaker.”
Michael Irvin was never a fast wide receiver. He set himself apart by using his big frame and large catch radius to bully defensive backs. What made him a Philly villain was the constant flamboyant play and how much he talked to defenders as he pushed and sometimes fought CB during games.
I can't say I ever really hated anything in my life, but being drafted by the Eagles in the second round in 1995, you learn early the dislike for that Dallas star!
In that same draft, Bobby Taylor was also taken in the second round. He was 2a, and I was 2b. Head coach Ray Rhodes dubbed him the "Michael Irvin Stopper." Taylor had the perfect size and attitude to put a stop to the boastful and bragging Irvin. Those were classic battles between them, Taylor being 6-3, 215 and Irvin at 6-2, 210.
Irvin played 12 years and played in 20 games vs. the Eagles. During his career, he was 10-10 against the Birds. Irvin had 64 catches for 1,047 yards and 5 touchdowns. It was always a battle when he arrived in Philadelphia at Veterans Stadium. During my tenure with the Eagles, I always looked at Irvin as the catalyst for that Dallas team. If we could apply pressure on Michael (the head), the rest of the body would fall!
I remember Coach Rhodes telling Bobby T, "If you stop Michael from talking to you, he will start talking and taking that frustration out on his teammates!"
Even now, no matter how much Cowboy players say that during the 90's the Eagles were not their biggest rival, all you have to do is listen to Irvin and his analysis during the season … then see Cowboy vs. Eagles week! Look at the attitude and hype that surrounds that week! He is still the villain, even in his broadcast career! We are still bitter enemies.