Michael Irvin warns rookies about keeping their old friends

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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.

45 responses to “Michael Irvin warns rookies about keeping their old friends

  1. Who better to tell these guys what NOT to do. Adam Jones, Michael Irvin, Michael Vick, Terrel Owens…if those guys can’t get through to these kids than nobody can.

    Keeping it real is staying loyal to yourself, and nobody else. If you put yourself in a position to succeed then you look out for yourself and everyone else can look out for themselves. Hopefully the rookies and even some veterans listen to Jones, Irvin, Vick and Owens.

  2. Beware: After forcing you to use cocaine and sleep around with a bunch of topless dancers and hookers, you “old friends will rat you out.

  3. It’s sad to learn that no one told Irvin that cocaine was against the law , before he joined the league , these guys have more excuses for their behavior than money they threw away.

  4. Michael, sorry, but if you wouldn’t do anything illegal in the first place, then you wouldn’t have had your “keeping it real” friends to testify against you that you did something illegal. You’re basically telling these rookies to find friends that won’t snitch on you when you do illegal things.

  5. You never think it will happen to you is why. These rooks think they are immortal and untouchable which is why we have a neverending cycle of pro players doing the dumbest things brother.

  6. I appreciate what Irvin is trying to say here. Friendships nearly always change when they become financially asymmetric, I have seen that happen many times. NFL rookies do need to be very careful about their old friends and to what extent they trust them.

    However, I can’t help but feel he is giving the wrong examples here. Irvin didn’t get suspended because ‘his friends ratted on him’, he got suspended because he was found in possession of cocaine. Vick didn’t go to jail because his friends betrayed him, he went to jail for being part of an illegal dog fighting ring. Sure, don’t trust your former friends is an important message, but I think ‘don’t do drugs’ and ‘don’t fight dogs’ would be the more relevant ones in these cases. A more relevant example might have come from the audience as RG3 was blackmailed by one of his former teammates recently to get at his new-found riches. *That* is the reason you need to be wary of former friends, your best way to avoid getting suspended for drugs possession is not to do drugs.

  7. So, young men, listen to Michael. And Michael. Keep the friends who will not testify against you for your crimes. Good lesson there, indeed.

  8. now that they have gone thru this and heard from guys who messed up, I do not want to hear any whining from the union or anyone how the the league does not do enough to prepare and take care of players. they screw up they have nobody to blame but themselves and deserve any and all punishment goodell hands out.

  9. Mike Vicks friends made the whole thing up he didn’t do all those things and would have been cleared on all charges if it wasn’t for his backstabbing friends. That’s too much. Why don’t they teach them to accept personal responsibility for their actions, forget about your friends, if you do right YOU will have no problems. If you choose to hang out with criminals well bad things happen.

  10. So Irvin blames his friends who told police that he was taking coke with them to save their asses and Vicks friends turned against him in court to save theirs,maybe if they were not guilty of doing those things in the first place they could have avoided what followed,dont blame your friends for talking to police,thats not a bad thing,blame yourself for getting involved in illegal activities in the first place.

  11. Bravo, Michael Irvin…After the Colts won the Super Bowl, 3 weeks later one of their defensive players was hanging with his “Keeping it Real” friends in his hometown (where I work) and was caught Smoking a spliff on the street corner…Another example of when you become a millionaire, you don’t belong with the poor folks anymore!! Get away from those people if you wanna protect yourself and your family and preserve what you have.

  12. maybe keeping it real means keeping it legal and doing the right thing in the first place?

  13. I don’t think Irvin was blaming his friends for his problems as much as he was showing that the “loyalty” thing is a crock. These young players keep their boys around out of loyalty, but when things get rough…for whatever reason…the “boys” disappear when there’s trouble…and when they’re no longer in the league/buying rounds.

  14. I have zero respect for Irvin, Pacman, TO, etc.

    Fine, they get it NOW, after the fact. I am sure that they were educated on right/wrong somewhere in their past but never bothered to listen b/c doing the right thing was not “cool”

  15. To the people who are saying it was the crime and not his friends that got him in trouble. I’m pretty sure the quotes in this article are a small portion of everything Irvin had to say. I don’t think he was blaming his friends, as much as just giving one example in his own life of how sometimes “keeping it real” is not the best idea.

  16. I was skeptical at first, but Irvin has turned it around since making the HOF a couple years ago. I think it’s legit, and I think he gets it now in a way he didn’t get it before. He’s been saying all the right things these past couple years, and I think all that is coming from a good place. You get older, you look back on your life and certain things become a lot more important. Maybe he can help some of these guys avoid the mistakes he made.

  17. Most of the holier-than-thou posters on here missed the entire point of the message Irvin was relaying to these rookies. He wasn’t making excuses for his behavior nor was he blaming his “keeping it real” friends for the choices that he made. He was telling them to be careful of the company they keep, the same advice I’d give my own son if he made the NFL. Some of you are so blinded by your own sense of self-righteousness, the message fails to reach you because of the messenger.

  18. So Irvin is saying don’t be loyal to your old friends because they will rat you out when you do things that are illegal?

    How ’bout this message… don’t do things that are illegal.

  19. He is sure looking good now to his tv exec bosses by saying those things,they wont tolerate what the nfl does.

  20. Some of the posts seem to borderline haters. In my opinion, what Mr. Irvin is saying is that when these young men who have made it to the NFL, there are conflicts emotionally about keeping it real with their college, high-school teammates and friends. To me, keeping it real means that you haven’t changed as a person now that you are a celebrity and the things you did with them, you will continue to do. At the end of the day and when push comes to shove, your “friends” will not be by your side. I feel ya Mr. Irvin!

    Speak Truth to Power!

  21. Personal responsibility is not something that is taught in government schools.

    Personal responsibility should be taught by parents and family, and it doesn’t matter if it is a broken home or not. A person can see how people around them screw up and avoid following in their footsteps.

    If these players are not strong enough to let go of friends that will bring them down, then they deserve what happens to them. They get no sympathy from me.

  22. The article doesn’t really get across the message of his talk if you saw the sample on NFL network. He wasn’t blaming friends for his wrongdoing, but telling folks if you think the friends will cover for you when it comes down, forget about it. I thought he was trying to open some eyes and let these guys know they are in a new environment, and in his words, leave the ghetto behind.

  23. you all act like you act like you h ave been squeaky clean all your life, just b/c your life is not public I garuntee it is not so polished. You sit here and you make fun of these men b/c they messed up, but how many dumb things did you do with your homies b/c you wanted to be loyal or cool or bad. yeah i thought so. we all have had poor influences in our life that we should have cut out, but we loved those poeple, but didnt realize they didn’t love us. They loved only what we could bring to the table. or them, they’d skin you alive to survive. But when it comes down to you And that is the message not just for them but for us too, stop keeping people around b/c they are familiar, for familiar folk dont always have your back, or your best interest at heart.

  24. Why do people bring up T.O? I’m sorry, he’s done something wrong in his career? Besides beat your team and throw it in your face? heh Last time I checked, He’s far from a criminal. Regardless of what people WANT him to be.

  25. Love him or hate him, Michael Irvin has come a long way and has leaped over many obstacles he laid into his path himself. I do the same when I talk to people about the military, the Navy specifically. I tell them things I wasn’t told. Lessons that I wish I would have been told, because these pitfalls could have been avoided.

    I keep my friends few, because very few people really hold your best interests at heart without trying to come up off of you. Chuck D said, “If I can’t change the people around me, then I will change the people around me.” Old friends can hold you down because their loyalty is to your money, not to you, at least with most of them. You have to weed those folks out.

  26. Amazing how many Irvin haters are out there. To different degrees, we’ve all done stupid things growing up, some worse than others but still stupid. The man has matured. I watched the TV show 4th-And-Long a couple years back, and you could tell he’s dedicating much of his time to helping younger players NOT to make the same mistakes he did. Hate if you want, but bravo to the idea of turning your life towards the light.

  27. I wish somebody would give these rookies the lesson that would make most of these other lessons unnecessary:

    If you, as a man, bring a child into this world, you need to be a man and raise and support that child.

    I can’t imagine myself acting a fool the way some of these guys did during their wild days. I wouldn’t be afraid of the cops or my friends snitching on me. I’d be afraid of catching hell from my Dad, who raised me better than that. But most of these guys didn’t have that and many will deprive their own offspring of it, and so the lessons continue …

  28. Michael Irvin needs to be featured on Chappelle’s Show.
    When Keeping It Real Goes Wrong.

  29. It’s pitiful how some of you find a way to look on the negative side of EVERYTHING. What these guys are doing is admirable. They’re trying to get these kids to learn from their mistakes. So get of your soap box and at least give them some credit for that. I just don’t understand why some people are just so got damn hateful. smh

  30. Yeh. I’m sorry. Am I missing something here?

    TO?! What the F did he do besides be a jackass?! I’m no fan, but I fail to see where he fits in this conversation, other than for the poster to immediately identify himself as prejudiced against high-profile loudmouths.

    Also, I’ll venture that Irvin’s troubles may not have even materialized if he weren’t running with his old element.

    If only ST had separated himself earlier. smdh.

  31. I get Irvin’s point, and it does seem like many players who get in trouble do so with old friends. It’s unfortunate many of these “friends” are just interested in hanging around now that the players are in the NFL…making pretty darn good money. Of course they’ll sell out quickly in order to save their own butts. However, if Irvin and Vick hadn’t broken the law (and got busted) their “friends” would have nothing to snitch about. Pretty simple, actually…don’t break the law.

  32. piemasteruk says: Jul 3, 2012 8:37 AM

    …However, I can’t help but feel he is giving the wrong examples here. Irvin didn’t get suspended because ‘his friends ratted on him’, he got suspended because he was found in possession of cocaine. Vick didn’t go to jail because his friends betrayed him, he went to jail for being part of an illegal dog fighting ring. Sure, don’t trust your former friends is an important message, but I think ‘don’t do drugs’ and ‘don’t fight dogs’ would be the more relevant ones in these cases…

    I think what is being missed here is that if you surround yourself with friends that have questionable character, you are more likely to engage in questionable behavior i.e. dogfighting, drugs, acting a fool at night clubs.

    Conversely, the best way to prosperity and positive growth is to surround yourself with positive and successful people.

    As the old saying goes, “You are the company you keep.”

  33. Terrell Owens was invited to talk about his financial troubles and being careful about your investments. He also will talk about his baby mamas and how much the courts take for child support. Plus he’s doing this to get in the good graces of the NFL which has essentially blackballed him.

    Irvin is making a good point about ditching your ghetto friends who have their own interests, ie., criminal activity, because that’s all they know. They will take from you because you’re making the big bucks and expect you to bankroll them because just because you’re homeboys. The players can easily get sucked into throwing money away and stop training.

  34. Up to a point I agree with what “The Playmaker” is saying – loyalty only goes so far. However, he is also blame-shifting here. Not sure that is the message the NFL wants to part – “snitches be b!tches”. Rather, don’t be a jack ass and operate dogfighting rings and pretend to be Tony Montana.

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