Hall of Fame receiver Michael Irvin said at the NFL Rookie Symposium that young players who think they need to be loyal to their old friends need to understand something: Those friends won’t always be loyal to them.
Referencing the 1996 drug charges that led to a no-contest plea and a five-game suspension, Irvin mentioned that people who had been his friends testified against him.
“All my keepin’ it real partners testified against me. They ran right to the D.A., ‘Oh, yeah, Michael did it.’ They kept it real, ‘I’m staying out of jail. Michael did it,'” Irvin said.
Irvin mentioned another Symposium speaker, Michael Vick, and how his three longtime friends turned dogfighting co-defendants all pleaded guilty and agreed to testify against him.
“Michael Vick stood up here and he told you,” Irvin told the rookies. “All his keep it real friends, they kept it real. They ran right to the police, ‘I’m keepin’ it real: He did it. He did it.’ All your keepin’ it real friends, I promise you, they’re going to keep it real on you.”
Irvin told the rookies at the symposium that they need to remember that they earned what they have in the NFL, and they don’t need to worry about, in Irvin’s words, “Somebody that didn’t put in the work that you put in, because he’s not determined enough, he doesn’t know how to get his butt up and doesn’t feel like getting his butt up and going to work.”
Irvin said he wanted to speak to the rookies because “When I came into the league I didn’t have anybody to tell me some things.” Irvin was ready for the on-field part of the NFL from Day One, but it took him many years and some painful lessons to be ready to conduct himself like a professional off the field. The lessons he learned the hard way are the ones he’s trying to impart on the rookies of today.