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PRO FOOTBALL HALL-OF-FAME MEDIA CONFERENCE
August 3, 2007
ADAM SCHEFTER: Our first member of the 2007 class Hall of Fame played tight end for the Detroit Lions from 1968 to 1977. He was a seven-time Pro Bowl selection, a member of the 1970s all-decade team, and a man that Deacon Jones told me this morning was a much, much better blocker than people knew. I call to the podium the first member of the class of 2007, Charlie Sanders.
CHARLIE SANDERS: Thank you. He said step up and talk about the weekend, what it's like. You know, every time I get to a point where I try to explain how I feel, what the whole experience is about, I get halfway through the sentence and I really can't complete the sentence because it's something I never experienced before and it's something that's very hard to put into words.
It gives you a chance, I do know, to humble yourself, because it also gives you the opportunity to look back over your life and realize how many people actually had a hand in what's happening to me right now. If that doesn't humble you, nothing will. I'm excited for my family, especially my kids more than anything, because I realize how much time I took away from them to get here. This is kind of, okay, this is a payback, a let-me-off-the-hook type of a deal (laughter).
I am elated. I'm so excited. I woke up this morning. The first thing popped in my mind is, Tomorrow's Saturday. We kid Roger Wehrli about the fact that right after the announcements he was always last because of the W in his last name. It was a standing joke: Roger's last. All of a sudden they told me I was going to be first.
You know, I know how he feels now. I'm going to break the ice tomorrow, and then maybe I can sit back and relax. But right now I am probably more nervous than I was as a rookie drafted by the Detroit Lions.
Q. This applies to the whole group, but it's the elite status of being in the Hall of Fame. You're one of these six, 241 in the world. Go back to your last year, in 1977. Probably 50,000 men have gone to training camp since then. When is it like to be in such a small club?
CHARLIE SANDERS: Again, it's very humbling, especially for me. I've never been the type of guy that started out my life wanting to be an athlete, much less a professional football player. I felt I was always competitive in any area that I tried to go after. I'd like to think that I would have been just as competitive had it been any work of life.
It's just unbelievable that I'm standing here today. I just keep asking myself, Why me? My career was good enough. I mean, I felt very happy with my career after 10 years with the Detroit Lions. This is just icing on the cake. I mean, again, it's humbling. It's like you stole somebody else's blessing, because I definitely was blessed prior to this. It's more than anyone could imagine, believe me.
Q. You mentioned there were a lot of people that helped you get to this point. Who are some of those people?
CHARLIE SANDERS: Now you're going to have me expose my speech. I'm having a hard enough time right now. Maybe I should break the ice. It will be easier tomorrow. Rehearsed it on you.
Most of my help in terms of being competitive and challenging life, what I go at, basically was mental preparation. That was the way my father was. My father was an athletic-looking individual, but education was all he believed in. He was a type that felt that if you wanted to play sports you had to earn the right, but education was going to come first.
So the strict disciplinary type approach is what he was about. I mean, if you were going to do it, you were going to do it right or you were going to do it over, and I mean starting over.
Some may look at it as that's a cruel, harsh way to attack life. But, you know what, life is cruel, too. I attribute most of who and what I am to the type of person my father was.
ADAM SCHEFTER: The next person we'll be calling to the podium will be the former Houston Oilers and Tennessee Titans guard, tackle, center, long snapper, everything. He played 19 seasons in the NFL, Bruce Matthews.
BRUCE MATTHEWS: Well, I got to admit, this weekend is kind of a struggle for me. From the perspective of a fan, which I feel I am, of the NFL, I really feel like an outsider looking in.
What I mean by that is just going to the Ray Nitschke luncheon, seeing all of these Hall of Famers, it's like they should allow me to sneak out the side door. I guess for me it hadn't really sunk in yet.
It's just a great honor. I think Charlie said it so well: it's very humbling. I think more than anything, to play this game was such a blessing, it never was a job. I never felt a sense of entitlement. It was like my whole life I was allowed to be a kid, and they paid me as well.
Even being able to play all the years I did, it never was work. This weekend is very much like that. It's like, You're going to allow me to do what? I kind of look around. You sure you're talking about the right guy?
It's a great honor to be here. I'm sure over the course of the weekend it will sink in a little more. It's been emphasized over and over it will probably take a year before you really understand the impact of everything that's gone on, but I'm excited to be here.
Q. How does one play 19 seasons in the NFL?
BRUCE MATTHEWS: I've been blessed. My brother Clay played 19 years for the Browns and Falcons. My family was blessed with the bodies that could take the pounding. The good Lord just gave us those bodies. Kind of ended up for me, I was coaching a youth team my second year out. I slipped in the mud, tore my quad tendon. First time I ever had knee surgery. Nineteen years in the NFL, never missed a game. Then a bunch of nine-year-old boys took me down (laughter).
Q. Bruce, last week baseball had its Hall of Fame. Players that played for one team their whole careers, like Cal Ripken. Most of you guys predate the start of free agency. 15 years of free agency, except for one year for Thurman, all you guys played for the same franchise. Do you think that era is going to be ending in the NFL? What, in your mind, do you think has been the good and bad of free agency?
BRUCE MATTHEWS: Well, my dad also emphasized in me a sense of commitment and loyalty. You know, the Oilers, we didn't necessarily have the best teams always, but I always felt a responsibility that I was put in that position -- and I don't want to take away from anybody who has ever signed a free-agent contract, because I truly understand. But to me it was like, yeah, I guess I could jump ship and go to a winning team, but I'd rather accomplish something where I started out.
I can't say there weren't moments in my career where I didn't consider it. But it was just part of the challenge. Yeah, I could go play with the 49ers or somebody - no offense to any 49ers fans out there. I just always looked at it as an opportunity.
I think there are those players around still today. You know, even Cal Ripken's record. People talk that that type record will never be broken. I disagree. I think there are guys out there who have the same love of the game that everyone has been referenced here today, my classmates have referenced, and they appreciate the game just for the sake of playing the game.
Obviously the money is great, the notoriety, everything that comes along with it. Unfortunately so much attention is drawn now to the negative aspects of the game. But there are those guys out there who play the game, play it right, play it for the right reasons.
Thank you very much.
ADAM SCHEFTER: Randy Covitz of the Kansas City Star informed me the next players called to the podium was the finest player ever born and raised in Missouri. He is a member, like Charlie Sanders, of the NFL's all-decade team from the 1970s.
Former St. Louis Cardinals cornerback from 1969 to '82, Roger Wehrli.
ROGER WEHRLI: Well, thank you. Like the other fellas, I'm just so thrilled to be here. As I say, I got to play my whole career in the state of Missouri. I grew up in Missouri, played at the University of Missouri, then drafted by the St. Louis Cardinals.
What a thrill that was to be there in my home state for my whole career, be able to have my family and friends come to the games, my folks see me play basically my whole career.
They want us to talk a little bit about how we feel about this. It's really almost beyond description to be voted into this group. You know, to be with the guys that you've played against, played with, three of the other Cardinals that I played with as teammates are in the Hall of Fame. Many of the receivers I faced during my career in the of Hall of Fame, guys that we faced. I played a few games against Charlie early in my career.
You know, it's just something that you dream about, but you can't really hope for it because you don't want to be disappointed if it doesn't happen. When I got that phone call this past February that I was in, all the emotions were there. It was just a wonderful thing. I'm so thrilled to be here and be a part of this.
Q. After waiting 25 years, did you think the day would pass you by?
ROGER WEHRLI: I thought probably it had. Although the last few years I've been -- I made the cut of the 25, the cut of the 15, and all of that. I think more recently, the last few years, it gets a lot more publicity because they publicize those cuts. You start thinking, Well, maybe I have a chance.
But really I thought it had probably passed me by and I would go into the senior division. My last year of eligibility, this was my 20th year of being eligible, which is all you have in the current class, and it happened this year. As I say, I'm just blessed to be here with these guys.
Q. How about playing your entire career at Missouri. Can you talk about what that was like. Strange being in Canton, Ohio?
ROGER WEHRLI: As I said earlier, it was so neat. At first you get letters from pro teams after playing at Missouri. You get letters from some of the pro teams. You get letters from Dallas, San Francisco, some of the teams that you think, Well, that would be neat to go there, neat to go to California, neat to play in Dallas because they were kind of America's team at the time, all those types of things.
But then drafted by the Cardinals. In fact, I was in St. Louis the night before the draft getting an award from college football. Coach Charlie Winner, who was then head coach of the St. Louis Cardinals, sat at the dais with us. He leaned over and mentioned they were interested in me. That was the first time I knew that the cardinals were even thinking about drafting me.
That was kind of a thrill because I didn't really know they were interested in me. Sure enough, they drafted me in the first round the next day. It worked out wonderful. I got to play 14 years in St. Louis. Just kind of moved right across the state from the Kansas City side over to the St. Louis side. Just a wonderful time there.
Q. Could you share with us your thoughts on the Nitschke luncheon today, being a first-year member of that group, how that went.
ROGER WEHRLI: It's wonderful to be there with the guys that are in the Hall of Fame. When they talked earlier, being a W, I'm the last of this class, so I'm No. 241. To think that's a select group, a very select group of all the people that have played. To go to the luncheon this afternoon, be in the same room with just those guys that are here, and what a great group we have coming back this year.
I think there's over 80 players coming back here, at that luncheon today. Just to sit there, you know, I sat at a table with the Cardinals', Larry Wilson, Dierdorf. You know, just to look around, see all the guys you saw when you were growing up, as I say, played against that are in this Hall of Fame, it's just very humbling.
They talk a little bit about what it means to be in the Hall of Fame. You know, it's just beyond words really.
ADAM SCHEFTER: Our next member from the class of 2007 was a runningback that spent 12 seasons in Buffalo and one more in Miami. He led the NFL for a record four straight years in total yards from scrimmage. I present to you, ladies and gentlemen, Thurman Thomas.
THURMAN THOMAS: Thank you. I'm pretty much like these guys, the next couple words that come out of my mouth will be my speech. I mean, I'm just at a loss for words right now without giving away my speech.
I tell you something, just being at the Ray Nitschke luncheon this afternoon, and Warren Moon said something that really hit home, I was kind of -- I was sitting in the back of the room at a table with two other guys that I had just met, guests there at the luncheon. He got up and he said, As you look around this room, do you actually belong here, seeing all the great players?
I looked around the room. I saw Joe Green, I know that he won four Super Bowls. I hate to pick on Mike, but I was looking at Mike. Bruce, Mike Munchak, Warren Moon, that they had never been to a Super Bowl. I look at Troy Aikman, you know, guys like that, Michael who won a Super Bowl. It still hit me then, as like, Well...
I took one last look and said, Well, Marv and Jim is over there, so I guess I belong here (laughter). It kind of dawned on me, they lost four, I lost four, I guess I do belong here.
It was just a luncheon, man, where I was just sitting down, you know, looking at all the great players that were in that room. There's some great ones that I watched when I was real little. Some I had an opportunity to watch during the end of their career. It's just an outstanding group of guys. I feel like me going in with the class that I'm going in, 2007, it's something that's special, something that I'll never, ever forget.
My family, they're up here having a great time along with the other players' families. So this is something that will be remembered from my family and friends that are coming up here today, tomorrow, for a long period of time.
Q. Does going into the Hall of Fame take away any of the sting from the Super Bowl losses?
THURMAN THOMAS: Well, I don't know if it takes away any sting. I wish that we could have won one. You know, I never really experienced what Michael and some of the other guys experienced as far as winning the Super Bowl, having that feeling afterwards.
Now, I know I'm going into the Pro Football Hall of Fame, I have a lot of teammates coming up here. The after party should be enjoyable. I don't know if it will feel like a Super Bowl. It will feel like a Hall of Fame party. But that will be special to me.
You know, that's the only thing that I can actually go on. Like I say, I've been in the locker room on four losing teams. That's not a good feeling. But when you have teammates like Bruce, Andre, Darryl Talley, a head coach like Marv Levy, it seems to ease the pain a little bit. I really thank those guys for being there, actually, and I told them all the time, being there for me, because I didn't play well in the last couple of Super Bowls.
When we had probably our best chance to compete, those guys have always stood up and said, Hey, it's a team game, don't worry about it. You tried your hardest, didn't give up us on us. That's all we ever asked for. Just a great bunch of great group of guys that I'd go to war with any day.
Q. I think it's given a Bruce will be here. Are you expecting to see Bruce Smith and Andre Reed standing here with you?
THURMAN THOMAS: Well, showing how confident Bruce is, we were at a golf tournament about a month ago. He actually signed a ball, "Bruce Smith, Hall of Fame '09." So I guess you can see how confident he is of being here in a couple of years (laughter).
I truly hope that Andre Reed gets an opportunity to get in the Hall of Fame. His numbers are great. He was around a group with Marv Levy, myself, and Jim Kelly. To me, you know, just talking about my teammates, Steve Tasker, to me the best special teams player to ever play the game. So we have some guys who are going to be coming up here pretty soon. Hopefully those guys will get in.
Q. How long will your speech be (asked by Michael Irvin)?
THURMAN THOMAS: I think it will be anywhere from, I guess, 9 to 12 minutes. But they did inform us -- well, they informed you they wouldn't cut to commercial, so I may get up there and talk a little bit longer. So who knows.
Might be short. I timed it last night. It was nine and a half minutes. I've been talking to Deacon Jones. He said, Whatever you do, write it down, which it is written down. And he said, If you just have to do this, Thank you, read, read, read, read, finish, thank you very much, leave, without looking up again, he said, Do it that way (laughter).
So hopefully I'll be able to do it better than that.
Q. Has Michael Irvin said to you that even if you leave a few minutes he would use them? (Asked by Michael Irvin)?
THURMAN THOMAS: Yes, he has. He has definitely told me that, and I'm sure he has the other players, too. I'm sure Bruce Matthews, his speech won't be as long. Roger won't say too much. Charlie said that he won't say too much. So you may have at least 50 minutes, I think (laughter). It starts at 6:00, ends at 9:00.
You could have anywhere from maybe 8:00 to 9:00. We're leaving it all up to you, baby, because we know how important it is to you and Jerry Jones and the Cowboys. If you want all the time, you can have it (laughter).
Q. Who is going to be the first person to cry?
THURMAN THOMAS: They already counted out Michael because he already cried at the press conference in Miami. It won't be Michael. I will probably say it would be Michael again. That's what I'm going to put my money on.
Q. When you were playing, did you look around the locker room and say, There are a lot of Hall of Famers in this room?
THURMAN THOMAS: No, I didn't. You know, including myself, too. I mean, I think when you come into the National Football League you don't think right away, Oh, yeah, I'm coming in to be in the Pro Football Hall of Fame. You come in to think you're going to try to win as many championships as you can.
To play on such great teams as I did with a bunch of great players I played with, dominated the AFC for a long period of time, playing really in a small market, to get the publicity we got was great for all of us because we had the stats, Jim had the stats, I had the stats, Andre, Bruce, Steve Tasker. You can go on and on. Marv Levy was the best coach in Bills history.
You never really looked at it until I guess after you finish playing. Marv Levy became the first coach to get in from that team, from the Buffalo Bills. After that it's kind of been like a domino effect for Jim, myself, Andre, hopefully Steve, and Bruce in a couple of years.
Thank you very much.
ADAM SCHEFTER: Our next member from the class of 2007 played 12 seasons in Dallas for the Dallas Cowboys. He was known as the play-maker. But as John Madden himself said when he was up here earlier, he was not the play-maker as much as he was a linebacker playing wide receiver. I now call on Michael Irvin to come up here and answer a few questions.
MICHAEL IRVIN: Hello. I missed John. He was up here talking about me, and let me tell you about John. One thing that I am kind of disappointed in my career. I wanted to catch a thousand passes, and I probably could have. First of all, I thank God that I don't have Thurman's problem, because I do have three Super Bowl rings (laughter). Let me get that out of the way.
But I wanted to catch a thousand passes. One day in that meeting with John and Pat, I shared a secret with them about how to get open without being as fast as some of the other guys. I said, you know, John, sometimes when guys are real close, as long as I'm in the running motion, I kind of (indicating), go get the ball.
I said, John, that's between you and I. Don't tell anybody. Of course, he must have run out of things to say during the broadcast, because that game, this secret between John and I, he broadcast to the world.
So now they bring in the rule. Every time I got ready to play, Watch Michael pushing. So those last 250 catches, I put that on John. I could have gotten to a thousand if he would have left my secret between him and me.
So whatever John said, I don't know. I just don't know. John says too much sometimes (laughter), and that's the problem.
You hear most of the guys talking about that luncheon today. To describe it, honestly it's not anything you can describe. Adam and I was talking about that earlier. I mean, to sit in that room with guys you've admired so much. Not only to sit in that room and look at them, but they grab the microphone and start talking about you.
So I was sitting there, and Deacon was talking about me. I'm thinking, oh, my God, I've never had a lack-of-confidence problem, not even lacking in the ego department (smiling), but I sat in that room and didn't squeak a word - not one word. I did not say a word.
Earlier we had a meeting in one of these rooms. Like the rookie, I came in and I grabbed my chair. They had tables. The tables looked full. I grabbed my chair, quietly went and sat against the wall. It's like sometimes when you're in the room where there's so much greatness, it's okay to capitulate and say, Hey, I'm just happy to be here.
That's how I feel. I'm just happy to be here. Don't know if I deserve it. Don't know if anybody deserves it really. But I'm just happy to be here.
Q. You've had so many experiences in your life, how does something like this live up to your expectations?
MICHAEL IRVIN: Well, to live up means I had to have the expectations. I don't know that I've expected what I'm seeing. The size of it all, it's not anything you can fantasize about or dream of. When I used to train, I used things to motivate me like, you know, during the off-season if I'm training, when I get at the pushing point where I'm tired, I would say, Hey, Pro Bowlers don't stop here. The Pro Bowl could motivate me.
When I would get past the Pro Bowl point I would say, Are you winning the Super Bowl or not? Boop, that would push you a little bit more. You get tired there, you know, Super Bowl MVP? You push there.
But not once did I even mutter out of my mouth about Hall of Fame. Just didn't do. I just didn't do it because I couldn't fathom it in my mind. I couldn't put it together. I just didn't do it.
And now that I'm here and I see what it really is, I'm glad I didn't do it 'cause I probably would have killed myself trying to run up to what the Hall of Fame is.
So, you know, I had no expectations about it, but I'm just happy to be here.
Q. You're one of 17 children in your family. Can you talk about the role your family, siblings, had on your development as a football player.
MICHAEL IRVIN: It's a funny thing because I think growing up with so many siblings, the good thing about it is you do learn that it's not all about you. That's what team is all about. You play a part, you play a role in the big picture.
And I do believe I'm fortunate enough to win championships everywhere I played. I do believe the ability to get along with people. Because once we start breaking it all down, it's only all about getting along with people. Can you lead? Can you help somebody become better at what they're doing?
I don't think that I was ever the greatest player on a football field, but I do believe that I helped players play great. There's a great difference there. I think you'll get many players that help players play great, you're going to win championships with that, and that makes all the difference in the world.
Jimmy Johnson, when I was talking to Coach Johnson, he said to me, You know you're my favorite player, Michael. Congratulating me, called me to congratulate me. Said, You're my favorite player. I said, Coach, that's great. Do you know what that means to me to hear you say that?
He said I worked hard. I used to train thinking about I want him to say I was his best player. To hear you say that. He said, Stop, Michael. I never said my best, I said favorite (laughter). I almost wrecked the car laughing. I said, Okay, I I'll take favorite. I'll take favorite.
I hope that's what he was meaning, he was trying to convey to me. No, you were not the best, but you helped people play great, and that made the difference.
Q. Where did your will come from?
MICHAEL IRVIN: I hate losing. You know, it's funny because I was telling Roger's business partner, Roger Staubach, because he still argues at basketball games and everything. I hate losing. And now, even now when I'm playing basketball or something, I'm out there arguing with these young guys. They're much better athletes than I am now, but I'm arguing with them, No, we won.
When I hear the Roger Staubach stories it makes me feel good, because I think I'm crazy. But then I hear that Roger does this stuff. Then I think, Okay, it's okay. If he's doing it, then, okay, maybe it's normal, it's just normal.
I never got when people say, I understand sportsmanship, I understand sportsmanship, I understand that, but don't tell me -- and I know kids may be watching, but I'm sorry, I'm going to tell you the truth -- that it's not about winning and losing, but it is. It is about winning and losing.
For me it's always been about winning and losing, and that's where the will comes in at. I did not, do not, and will not. I don't want to lose.
Q. When you look back over all of your accomplishments in your career where does this weekend rank?
MICHAEL IRVIN: This is tops. This is tops. You hear people say that this is the crowning moment of your career, and it is just that. You know, there are plenty of Super Bowl rings in that room. It is the elite.
I always used to tell people, Okay, the best get to go to college. Then the best of that best gets to play in the NFL. This is the best of the best of the best of that best in the Hall of Fame.
To be in that room and say that I'm part of that, it's a mind-blowing honor. It is. It's overwhelming. It's overwhelming. And it does get embarrassing. It's hard. I don't ever get embarrassed, but it does get embarrassing. You get little old ladies walking up to you in the airport saying, Congratulations on the Hall. I'm like, What do you know about the Hall of Fame? It's like, Wow, this is different, this is different.
Q. How important is it that you get to share this with your family? Seems like you brought a big chunk of Broward County up here with you.
MICHAEL IRVIN: Yeah, a big chunk of my money is gone (laughter).
No, it's very important. That's why I would say -- I said it in the press conference in Miami that it did work out great. My mom was right. God does know best. It worked out the best way. First and foremost, my leader, our leader, our quarterback, Troy Aikman, he led us to three Super Bowls.
It was just that he walked in the Hall first and he led. He's leading my group of guys into the Hall, so he went first. I have the opportunity to get in in Miami, right there, right at home, right in front of everybody. I thought that was great. God fixed it for me.
Because the reality of it all to me was, Troy got his MVP in Pasadena. Emmitt got his MVP in Atlanta. The next Super Bowl was in Miami. That was supposed to be my MVP. We went down 21 and lost to San Francisco.
I told Emmitt, Atlanta is as close as we gonna get to Pensacola. There was going to be no Super Bowl in Pensacola. The Miami Super Bowl was supposed to be my MVP. It was San Diego, they played a lot of man coverage. It lined up perfectly. It did not work out. I guess God said, I got you there, Michael. Let me give you this back.
So to get inducted, called in Miami, it was great for me. It kind of made everything all right for me again.
Q. Why did you select Jerry Jones to make the presenting speech, and have you finished your speech yet?
MICHAEL IRVIN: Well, I selected Jerry because he's the right man for many reasons, for many reasons. I sat with my wife -- and I'll share this with you -- I sat with my wife and I said, Baby, okay, who gets your vote? And she started sharing things with me that I didn't know anything about. She started sharing when I laid on that carpet, and it was carpet, in Philadelphia with my neck injury.
While I was under the doctor's care, Jerry called her and talked to her until she was calm about everything. And when things were not going great for me, Jerry would call her and talk to her and let her know that we're going to be right here, you know, we care about him. She's never said anything to me about any of that.
You know, Jerry and I go beyond football, beyond football. I don't play for Jerry now. We still sit down and talk. He asks me about my plans. What are your plans? He's always talking about this 36 months, give me your three-year plan. We always got to be working 36 months. And I'm not catching one touchdown for him, not one.
He means a great deal, great deal to me, and I appreciate his friendship. I appreciated when I was playing his ownership, the type of owner he is. He has the same desires to win Super Bowls as the players do. You don't find that with owners a lot of the times. They're guys that want to make money, but this guy really wants to win Super Bowls. I have an appreciation for that.
I tell people all the time, I love that he comes to practice. If you're going to bust your butt in practice like you supposed to practice, you should want the owner to come out here, too, to practice. Because when I go ask for my money we shouldn't have any problems. You see how I practice, so why would you not want him out there all the time? I want him on the field. I want him to be here every day. I like that it matters that he's around all the time.
I think the world of him, I really do. I think the world of him as a man. I think the world of his family. It was an easy pick for me.
Q. Your speech?
MICHAEL IRVIN: Am I finished with it? My speech is in here, it really is. I think it's important for me with all that I have gone through to share as much as is in here and who I am. There are a lot of people that have heard a lot about me - some things good, some things bad. I get the opportunity -- I want to try to share as much of me with people as I can.
Q. On or off the field, any regrets from your career?
MICHAEL IRVIN: Of course I have regrets. Some of the things that have happened off the football field. I don't think anyone would raise their hand and say, I want that to happen.
But when it's all said and done, do I move on with it, then you try to start looking at the bright side of everything. You say, Okay, that's happened. What do you do you now? What's the bright side of it? What's the bright side? I look and I say, when I go to talk to kids that are having issues or had problems, they perk up. They know when I walk in the room, He's been there and he's done that. They lend me their ear. I get an opportunity to really have some great conversations.
I get on airplanes and I can't tell you how many just fellowship sessions I've had with people just on airplanes. They heard the story, they sit down, talk to me, they open up, they cry. They may hand the phone over, Can you call my son? He's going through something. Call my daughter. She's going through something. Maybe you can help.
They loved watching you.
Those are the times, though I will always regret the mistakes, the bad decisions. I don't want to call them mistakes, but bad decisions I made. I will always regret them. Those are the times that I'm okay, yeah.
Q. You mentioned losing earlier, Troy Aikman. In the earlier years you had some lean times. When Troy first came in did you say, This guy might be able to turn it around for us?
MICHAEL IRVIN: Let me tell you, the first year, what did we go 3-13 the first year? I cried after every game like a baby. Flat out cried. Boo-hoo. I mean, tears were running. The guys were walking by me, picking up their checks, talking about, I don't know what you're doing, rookie.
I was taking down their names, too. As soon as Jimmy got there I turned that list in. They got to go (laughter).
When we drafted Troy that year, I said, Oh, we got it. That's all I needed was one guy. I can get this thing turned around. I'm good. Went 1-15 that next year.
But the good thing about it is somebody else was crying with me. You found that it mattered. It mattered. I thought, I got me somebody else that it really matters to. That's all you need. You just keep putting people around you that it matters to. Troy, we got Emmitt of course, it mattered to Jimmy. We had a head coach with all of his star players, naturally that trickles down, that trickles down. We were able to be very successful.
I like the fact -- I didn't enjoy it. There's a difference between enjoying and liking. I didn't enjoying losing, but I like the fact, as I look back, we started out with those lean years, because through those lean years we built a bond that held, that sustained us through those great years.
That's why we never had disputes, we never broke up. You would never hear me call out my quarterback. You would never hear me talk about my teammates in a bad way, because they are that: They are my teammates. But they were also family.
They taking me away now. I could sit and talk with you guys quite a while, but they're telling me that's it. Thank you, guys (laughter).
End of FastScripts