The Pro Football Hall of Fame and Ford Motor Company paid tribute to Gold Jacket at his high school alma mater on Friday morning as part of the Hometown Hall of Famer™ program. More than 500 students, along with Irvin’s former teachers and coaches were in attendance at St. Thomas Aquinas High School in Ft. Lauderdale, Fla. for the event.
Hometown Hall of Famer™ is a national program that honors the hometown roots of the greatest heroes of the game with special ceremonies and plaque dedication events in local communities.
The former Dallas Cowboys great and Pro Football Hall of Fame Class of 2007 enshrinee, was joined on stage by the school’s varsity football team. Irvin, who took a redeye flight from the west coast between his broadcasting duties for NFL Network, was humbled by the ceremony.
“In the game of football like in the game of life, like family you won't do anything by yourself,” Irvin commented. “This ceremony is an opportunity to come back and say thank you to everybody that played a role on my journey."
Irvin also acknowledged his high school football coach George Smith and an inspirational teacher Shirley Jones. “Coach Smith was a miracle on my journey and Mrs. Jones made sure I got things done,” he stated.
Both Smith and Jones were integral in Irvin’s life especially after his father passed away. Irvin shared, “I took it hard when I lost my dad, but he had already (been) placed in my life to help guide me. Coach Smith became my father.”
Others in attendance at the Hometown Hall of Famer™ ceremony were Ft. Lauderdale Mayor Jack Seiler; Michael’s son , Jr. who is a tight end for St. Thomas Aquinas and committed to his father’s alma mater University of Miami; Patrick O’Neill, Miami Regional Manager, Sales and Service for Ford Motor Company; and Pro Football Hall of Fame Executive Vice President George Veras.
Veras later shared that Irvin generously made a charitable grant to the school.
Irvin was drafted by the Cowboys in the first round of the 1988 NFL Draft. In 12 seasons, the talented receiver hauled in 750 career catches for 11,904 yards and 65 TDs. He recorded 1,000-yard seasons every year but one during an eight-year span from 1991-98. He was selected to five straight Pro Bowls and named to the NFL’s All-Decade Team of the 1990s.
Friday’s event was the 92nd Hometown Hall of Famer™ ceremony. Class of 2015 enshrinee Tim Brown will be the next Hero of the Game to be honored through the program when a tribute at Woodrow Wilson High School in Dallas takes pace on November 6.
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