Albeit 75/25 love, there’s a love/hate relationship with Deion Sanders residing in my heart. Why? Because I will go to my grave believing Primetime is the reason Dallas didn’t win four consecutive Super Bowls in the ’90s. Sure, he wasn’t the sole reason. The Niners were loaded that year. Steve Young was playing with the ghost of Joe Montana hovering over Candlestick Park. Dallas had more than 20 players listed as injured heading into the January 15, 1994, contest. But blaming Deion helps me sleep better at night.
It all stems from his blatant pass interference no call on Mike Irvin in the 1994 NFC Championship game. A call which could have very well turned a 38-28 score to 38-35 thus creating a Thanksgiving dinner of “what ifs.” An enraged Barry Switzer, who inherited Jimmy Johnson’s goldmine in Big D*, bumped an official who then hit Dallas with a 15-yard penalty ending any hopes of a comeback.
Deion helped bring a title to Dallas the following season, helping heal some of the wounds he played apart in carving open. Nonetheless, Irvin – otherwise known and rightfully called “The Playmaker” – had 12 catches for 192 yards and two TD’s on Primetime that fateful Sunday. He wasn’t the fastest wideout known to man. Nor as “the greatest.” Hell, he may have not been the most talented. But believe this, #88 was a gamer. If a crucial 3rd and 8 in the waning minutes of a fourth quarter needed completing, Irvin was there. If a touchdown was needed to silence the crowd, Irvin was there. If the lights were at their brightest, The Playmaker was definitely there. Granted, if drugs and loose women were present, Irvin was there, too, but that’s besides the point.
Call me a homer, biased or any term associated with being a misguided Cowboys fan. I’ll accept that. But if I need one receiver, for one game, with my life savings on the line, Michael Irvin is my guy. And I’m not looking back.
* – Please, for the love of God, do NOT get me started on that issue. Just ask Irvin how he felt about the move. The firing of Jimmy Johnson is 86.7% of the reason I’m sure Dallas remains cursed to this day. It is, unequivocally, the worst firing in the history of professional sports.