For years Dallas Cowboys fans watched number 88 pull of stunning catches and runs. Michael Irvin hung up his cleats in 1999, but remains one of footballs most recognizable names and faces.
Most Dallas fans know Michael the athlete. But during his stop in Tyler last Wednesday for Texas College's athletic banquet, fans learned more about "The Playmaker's" spiritual side.
Michael Irvin is as much of a star to the Dallas Cowboys as the one he wore for more than a decade on his helmet. But, Michael remembers it wasn't always so.
"You guys have to appreciate where greatness comes from," Irvin said. "When I got to Dallas they were 1-15. We went on to win three championships in four years."
Addressing the crowd of Texas College supporters, Michael talked more about the person rather than the player.
"It took me 40 years to really realize the hand that God has had on me," he said.
A finalist for the NFL's Hall of Fame in 2005, inducted into the Cowboys Ring of Honor last September, Michael said none of that would mean much of anything without faith in his life.
"God made all of us beautiful and unique. He made all of us special."
Michael addressed his former problems off the field, and a November arrest for possession of drug paraphernalia. He maintains he took a pipe from an addict friend to later throw away. He said during all the troubled times, he leaned on the real playmaker in God.
"All I could think about, was the Bible tells me, what the devil will make for bad, God will make for good," he said.
Fans still swarm around him, adults almost like kids around their favorite player. But Michael Irvin wants every football and Cowboys fan to know, his life these days is different. Not because the playing days are over, but because he finally appreciates every moment of his success.
"All (God) did was shine a light," he said, "and hat they meant for bad, I want you to look out. God makes it good."
Michael Irvin recently reached a new deal with ESPN, to continue as one of the network's NFL analyst.
Maya Golden reporting