Steve Smith, Michael Irvin trade barbs over stats, routes, and rings

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Great TV happens when analysts with strong opinions engage in an authentic, genuine debate. As long as no one gets physically assaulted. (More on that later.)

On Thursday night, NFL Network analysts Michael Irvin and Steve Smith ended up in an on-air résumé-measuring contest, sparked by a comment from Irvin that Smith regarded as a sign of disrespect.

Said Irvin, channeling Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco, “The last time I really had me one of those ‘I trust you receivers’ that was Anquan Boldin and that was 2012 and I took him to the Super Bowl.”

Smith, who spent three years after 2012 with the Ravens, took exception.

“So you’re telling me they ain’t had a wide receiver since Anquan?” Smith said.

Irvin tried to backpedal by blaming the oversight on Smith’s injuries.

“But Steve you played there then got hurt and he had to go through it,” Irvin said. “But you talked about it. Those injuries. I’m with you on that.”

That didn’t placate Smith, and for good reason. He generated more than 1,000 receiving yards with the Ravens in 2014.

“I understand you have the rings, but I passed you statistically years ago,” Smith said, emphasizing the word “years.” (And he’s right; Smith is No. 8 on the all-time receiving yardage list. Irvin sits at No. 27.)

“Hold on,” Irvin said, “I got enough rings to let all of y’all borrow one and still have some.”

“I concur and I agree with your rings,” Smith said. “But at the same time, it ain’t no route I couldn’t run that you hoped you could run. . . . I got a doctorate in route running . . . You got an associate’s degree [from] community college.”

That was the end of it, at least for now. If both will be on site for NFL Network Thursday night pregame shows this year, it quite possibly will continue. And it could be something that spills over to the off-air segments.

Which would make it prudent to keep the cameras rolling. Either, as mentioned on Friday’s PFT Live, for entertainment value or for evidentiary purposes in any eventual civil or criminal proceedings.

That’s not a joke, though I wish it were. As explained in the first chapter of Jeff Pearlman’s Boys Will Be Boys, Irvin once stabbed a Cowboys teammate in the neck with scissors. And Smith on at least two occasions sucker punched a Carolina teammate. (They were Anthony Bright in 2002 and Ken Lucas in 2008.)

While Irvin has considerably mellowed, Smith seems to be every bit as feisty as he was as a player. If Irvin presses the right button, NFL Network may be televising an unplanned episode of Rock ‘Em Sock ‘Em Robots.

54 responses to “Steve Smith, Michael Irvin trade barbs over stats, routes, and rings

  1. That would be very entertaining, that’s a match-up I’d like to see, Michael Irvin is prob in pretty good shape still, and Steve Smith is only 5’9″ but plays and fights like a giant.

  2. I refuse to watch the NFL Network pregame with Steve Smith and Michael Irvin. Steve Smith, although he has some good things to say, never stops talking–ever. And Michael Irvin is about like listening to someone who’s drunk. How exactly did he ever get into a good academic school like Miami (never mind, I know why). The better question is how he managed to stay eligible (never mind, I already know why). Listening to him is just ridiculous.

    Smith and Irvin are two blowhards who never shut up and are full of themselves. It’s unwatchable.

  3. Now THIS is how you get me excited to watch a Thursday night game! They could be showing the Dolphins vs the Bills and i would be tuned in to hear this exchange. Let’s keep it going!

  4. The best part of that bit was Reggie Bush laughing at the two of them. Also, Reggie is the only remotely insightful one on that trio.

  5. Who cares? Both are overrated and poor teammates, IMO. Must be awfully hard to find quality broadcasters if those two are on air. It’s ANOTHER reason not to watch.

  6. Why does the NFL Network insist on employing so many former players with off field issues? Here, I’m primarily speaking about Irvin and his many drug violations.

  7. How many hall of fame QB and RB did Smith play with? Smith was a great WR with a bunch of bad to average QB. Irvin was a good WR on a team loaded with talent.

  8. NFLN programming needs significant improvement. Seems every cable channel now has multiple people debating (arguing) loudly with one another. Too often everyone on the set is talking at the same time.

  9. I love Steve Smith. Irvin is a punk and I love that he called him on that! Take Irvin off those teams and they probably still win SB’s. Take Steve Smith off his Panther/Ravens squads and they don’t make the PLAYOFFS. Steve Smith is a HOF receiver, and he’s never played for my team.

  10. Don’t love selfish Steve Smith pretending he wanted money all the time whether in Carolina or choosing Baltimore over NE (who would do that?), while never having an impact to win anything.

    Irvin was lucky Jimmy Johnson drafted him and that Johnson was a guy who got the cap early on, similar to how BB was trying to set it up in Cleveland, but wasn’t allowed to.

    Smith would have gotten a ring in 2014 with the Pats, but he blew it instead. His choice, as he was more concerned with self promotion and telling everyone how great he is.

  11. Most of you never saw Irvin play, admit it. Like all true greats, he was at his best in the biggest of games. No one would outwork him, he stole ball from defenders. He was fun to watch. Hate him, call him names (because THAT’S useful and creative) but he was a beast. Stats? Please. Staubach was never impressive in stats..but a savage on the field, unstoppable. So, you little fantasy kids, stats are all you care about, but the point of the actual game is to WIN, and winning the big game is ALL. Irvin was a big part of doing that 3 TIMES, nearly 4 times.

  12. Irvin was lucky Jimmy Johnson drafted him and that Johnson was a guy who got the cap early on, similar to how BB was trying to set it up in Cleveland, but wasn’t allowed to.

    Tom Landry drafted Michael Irvin……

  13. Never mind the clown show. It’s the astute,insightful analysis that is even more dramatic. Like this gem from Irvin…” If the Ravens can score 47 points a week, they’ll not only be contenders to win the AFC north, they’ll be contenders to win the Super Bowl”. Absolutely brilliant analysis, who would have thunk it.

  14. Best part of exchange was when Irvin later said “the Ravens beat the Bills by a score of 47-3. 47, my favorite number, I wore that number at the university of Miami….when i was winning championships there”

  15. I saw them both play. Irvin was clutch in big games but Smith was a better overall receiver and it is not close. If Smith had played with better qb’s he would be in the top 5 in yardage.

  16. Rings are not a measurement of individual success. Rings are, and always have been, a TEAM accomplishment. Of the two, Irvin was on the best teams (surrounded by HOF talent on both sides of the ball). Smith was a better WR, and the stats back it up. Smith even accomplished that with a virtual scrub squad (especially as compared to Irvin) throwing him the ball.

  17. Smith has better career stats than Irvin. If he hadn’t played most of his career in obscurity (as opposed to being a Dallas Cowboy), would we even be having this discussion?

  18. Thank Jerry Jones for Irvin not being charged with assault and/or attempted murder when he stabbed a teammate in the neck (and ended his football career) for refusing to vacate the barber’s chair. It’s hilarious that Jerry Jones gets his panties in a bunch about people kneeling during the anthem, while he does everything he can to subvert the rule of law.

  19. Irvin is a grade A phony, he’s lucky to have clowns like Ray Lewis and Deion Sanders around to make him look somewhat legit. Don’t forget about the time he was driving around with a crack pipe that he was “holding” for a friend. Smith’s act is getting tiresome too. He always played with a chip on his shoulder, but he’s retired now. It’s time to hang up the underdog attitude, he needs to move past it and stop treating everything as a playground challenge of his manhood.

  20. Irvin is just a loud mouthed useless punk. He gets louder every segment. I can’t hit mute fast enough when he starts yelling and laughing on the set.

  21. Come on, Steve. We all know Michael Irvin suffered a career-ending injury after 11 seasons. Steve Smith played like 16 seasons. Had Irvin been able to play a few more seasons (let alone 16 seasons), Irvin would have easily set the bar too high for Smith to match.

  22. dietrich43 says:
    September 14, 2018 at 11:55 am
    How many hall of fame QB and RB did Smith play with? Smith was a great WR with a bunch of bad to average QB. Irvin was a good WR on a team loaded with talent. ——————————————
    I’m not sure I follow this argument. Smith was the only option ….he got all the plays called his way….Irvin had to actually compete with other great players for his stats.

  23. Ron Jull says:

    Last time Irvin was on the field he was being stretchered off at the Vet.

    Ahhh sweet memories.
    only a turd would express his happiness when a player was almost paralyzed due to the cement turf from a pure garbage stadium in Philthydelphia that even had a jail in it and i am sure Ron Jull was a frequent client of it.

    As for Steve Smith, he is a PURE punk with a major league big mouth.

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