Since bullying is the topic du jour, it makes sense to get the perspective of a Hall of Fame player who knows a thing or two about the subject.
Former Cowboys receiver Michael Irvin addressed the topic on Wednesday’s edition of Cleveland Browns Daily with Vic Carucci.
“[People have] said, ‘Would you have gone through it? Would you have allowed it?’” Irvin said. “I said, ‘Absolutely not. Are you serious?’ The only thing I can relate it to is we were coming back from a game one time, and I don’t remember the game, but we were on the airplane and Charles Haley, he was in one of those moods. He was going in hard after one of our staff members. I won’t say his name, out of privacy for him … and the guy wasn’t saying anything.
“Charles just kept going at him, and I said, ‘Hey, enough of that, man.’ He said, ‘I’m going to come back there and kick your . . .’ I said, ‘No, you’re not. No, you’re not kicking nobody’s butt. We’re on an airplane. We’re going to stop this right now. We’re not doing any of this.’ Charles said, ‘Oh, what are you going to do? You going to come up here and whoop my butt?’ I said, ‘No, I’m not going to come up there to whoop your butt, but I promise you, you’re going to come through me to whoop his. That’s it. We’re going to stop this now.’
“I was scared out of my wits. Charles is a big fella and he’s crazy, but thank God, he didn’t come out of his chair. I didn’t want to go at Charles, but by no means was Charles getting to that guy because he was wrong. He was wrong and thank God he stayed in that chair. It calmed down, but he was way out of line and off-base. You’ve got to stand up, and if I was in that room with that guy, Incognito, I promise you, I would’ve said something about that.”
Irvin apparently shared that same story during the Thursday night pregame show on NFL Network. In neither setting did he mention his own experiences as the aggressor in a bullying situation.
The first chapter of Boys Will Be Boys, Jeff Pearlman’s 2008 look at the Cowboys of the 1990s, is titled “Scissors to the Neck.” It tells the story of the time that Irvin, yes, took scissors to the neck of a teammate.
It started at training camp in 1998, when the six-foot-five, 318-pound McIver got into in a barber chair when it was Irvin’s turn.
“Seniority!” Irvin yelled, but McIver didn’t leave the chair.
“Seniority! Seniority! Seniority!” Irvin screamed. “Punk, get the f–k out of my chair!”
Teammate Erik Williams told McIver not to get up, because McIver wasn’t a rookie. Eventually, McIver stood up and shoved Irvin. Irvin shoved McIver back. McIver shoved Irvin again. Then, McIver grabbed Irvin and threw him toward a wall.
Next, McIver did what so many football people have said this week that a “grown-ass man” should do when bullied: McIver punched Irvin in the mouth.
And then Irvin grabbed a pair of scissors and stabbed McIver in the neck.
“The motion was neither smooth nor slick, but jagged,” Pearlman writes, “like a saw cutting felt. The tip of the scissors ripped into McIver’s skin, just about his collarbone and inches from the carotid artery. McIver let loose a horrified scream.”
So, yeah, Irvin is an authority on locker-room bullying. But he’s got a much better story than the one he told about Charles Haley — with a lesson that is much more relevant to Martin’s decision not to punch Richie Incognito in the mouth.