Michael Irvin on mistakes, redemption, new mission

The Playmaker, former Cowboys wide receiver Michael Irvin, admits he was a playing as much off the field as he was on the field.

"Football brings about a lot of noise in your life," he said. "You have the football; you have the finances; you have the females. Everything is running around you, and there is a lot of noise in your life, and it can fool you that that is living."

Irvin was living in the fast lane and making headlines with his wife and children at home.

But he said he had an epiphany on the day he was inducted into the NFL Hall of Fame in 2007. He walked off the stage, saw his sons, and decided it was time to change.

"I shared from my heart. I shared where I felt I had failed my sons as a father, and openly prayed for God to help me never fail them again," Irvin said.

He said the new road hasn't been an easy one; there have been missteps. But he said he turned to God, and his life began to change.

He became close to Bishop T.D. Jakes and started turning his life around.

"This has to be God, because that guy we knew named 'Michael', he could not make this change on his own," Irvin said.

Now he says he feels called to take his mistakes and turn them into something positive. He wants to minister to men about fatherhood.

"When you say, 'I have made mistakes,' some people might look at Michael Irvin and say, 'Why should we see him as role model? A man speaking on fatherhood and as a mentor?' I asked the same question. 'Why, God? Why do you have me doing this?' I was making bad decisions and I almost lost my family and God shared with me, 'I see you.'"

Irvin said he is redeemed, and wants to speak to the millions of children who have no fathers in their lives.

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He points to the NFL athletes who get into trouble. He said many never had a father around.

"It's not about making money, because these guys are making millions and millions of dollars living in mansions," Irvin said. "And they are still talking about the pain of their father not being there."

Irvin came from a family of 17 children. He was number 15.

He said his father was around, hard-working and caring, and on his death bed he was more concerned about how his children's feelings and how they were handling his illness.

"And I thought, 'Wow, here is a man that is in his worst state and overtaken with pain, and all he is thinking is about the well-being of his family.' Now that is man."

So Irvin is taking what he learned from his father and teaming up with former Oakland Raiders player and Heisman Trophy winner Tim Brown to minister to men. He said it is about strengthening men and empowering them to be better husbands and fathers.

"To be sure we don't lose hope, because when we lose hope, we make it hopeless for our kids," Irvin said.

Irvin and Brown will speak at the Potter's House of Dallas on Friday, August 29 at 7 p.m. for Friday Night Lights Men.

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