NFL: Who You Got? Michael Irvin or Steve Smith in Their Prime

Steve Smith and Michael Irvin didn’t just dominate on the field, they also dominated in the ‘trash talking’ game. Each one constantly jarring at the opposing teams, or in this case on TV in front of the world. On Thursday Night Football they got into it once again, about career status. It was a classic battle on TV that started when Irvin said, “Joe Flacco hasn’t had a wide receiver he could trust since Anquan Boldin.” Of course, Steve Smith is going to have something to say because he played with Flacco for 3 seasons after Boldin. Michael Irvin also pointed out Steve Smith’s injury history while in Baltimore where he missed 11 games in 3 seasons.

Irvin had the floor for the beginning but you know Steve Smith wasn’t going to remain quiet, he always has something to say. Steve Smith was the wide receiver version of Marshawn Lynch and the “Beast Mode” mantra. He was probably the most fearless wide receiver in the NFL in his prime. Smith would constantly run across the middle of the field, where the ‘hard-hitting’ linebackers lurked. Now, wide receivers are hesitant to go full speed across the middle of the field. Smith lived in the middle. Defensive backs are also nervous to attempt the big hits with the new rules. Nonetheless, they won’t end this argument. They both have way too much pride, and that’s why we love Irvin and Smith. Who would you take in their prime? Irvin winning SB rings, but he had a ridiculous supporting cast. Or Steve Smith, the toughest wide receiver in NFL history and a top-10 all-time wide receiver and the best route runner in the history of football, according to Steve Smith.

“I understand you got the rings, but I passed years ago statistically… I got a doctorate in route running. You got an associate’s degree, playa.. from a community college.” – Steve Smith

Steve SmithSmith didn’t have the luxury of having a QB of Troy Aikman’s caliber. He managed to put together a 1,000 yard season in 8 of his 16 seasons. Smith had over 1,000 receptions in his career and he played with SEVEN different quarterbacks. Michael Irvin played with 2 QB’s in his career, Smith had SEVEN. Let’s hear some of the QB’s Smith played with. Chris Weinke in Smith’s rookie season in ’01, Rodney Pete, Jake Delhomme (6 seasons as teammates), Vinny Testaverde’s final season at 44 years old. Then Cam Newton before going to Joe Flacco with the Ravens. The QB-WR relationship is something that is developed over time and you need time to build that chemistry. Having the timing down and having the signals in sync are critical. To have played with 7 different QB’s, all but one are sub par at best, is another reason why I put Steve Smith ahead of Michael Irvin. Smith surpassed 14,700 yards receiving (8th all-time), 26th all-time in TD’s with 81, and 12th all-time in receptions with over 1,000. Who knows how this debate would go if Irvin would have played a little bit longer.

Irvin smith irvin 2Irvin, was a 5 time pro-bowl receiver for the Dallas Cowboys and a 3 time Super Bowl Champ. He won back-to-back SB rings in ’93-’94 and his 3rd came in ’96. Irvin only played for 12 seasons as opposed to Steve Smith’s 16 seasons. What if Irvin had played longer? What more could he have really accomplished? Both of these former wide receivers are two of the most competitive players you’ll ever see or hear. As you can see from their Thursday night banter. They like to win on the field and behind the booth. Everyone that has ever played with Michael Irvin has said the same thing about his passion and drive to be great and to win football games. He was part of one of the greatest dynasties in NFL history in the early 90’s and he will forever be held in high standards.

If I am starting up a football team I would build my passing attack around Smith over Irvin. Can’t go wrong either way, who would you take? Without Irvin, the Cowboys don’t have a dynasty. It’s a close call but you have to go with Smith because he is also at a height disadvantage. He was 5’9 but played like he was 6’5. They both currently look to be in pretty good shape and Steve Smith is talking a big game by writing the book on route running, they should set up a skills competition.


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