Without a doubt, Hall of Fame wide receiver Michael Irvin has been one of the most flamboyant personalities in sports over the past 25 years. Whether one discusses his incredible football abilities, his even more incredible mouth, his affinity for drugs, his attempts to stab teammates, or his generosity to those in need, there’s a larger-than-life Michael Irvin story for nearly every occasion.
Well, add another one to the pile. Last night, I’m following blogging maestro Spencer Hall’s live-Tweeting of Michael Irvin’s new show, 4TH AND LONG, when my memory jogs and I casually ask him, “Hey, did I ever tell you about the time Michael Irvin picked up our tab at the strip club?” You can see where this is headed.
I’ve told this story to friends and acquaintances over the years, but this is the first time it’s ever appeared in print. Is it true? Is it BS? That’s for you to decide, dear reader. Only a small group of young men from northern Illinois - and one Dallas Cowboy legend - know the truth. Here’s the story as I told it last night via instant messenger, edited for clarity and to protect the guilty. Any and all [sic]s are implied:
[22:08] Pete Gaines: 2002, I’m back in my hometown working for the Rockford Lightning [a now-defunct minor-league basketball team]. Come that October, a HS friend (who is, mind you, a kindergarten teacher) is getting married, but since his best man lived in New England, a bachelor party was never planned. So, a week before the wedding, a bunch of us conspire to get him out to a friend’s place in the Chicago burbs for a “pre-wedding cookout.” The plan was to spirit him off to a strip club of some sort. Being dorky, relatively poor 22 year olds, we had no idea where to go. One friend chimes in with “hey, I heard about a new place on the radio, by O’Hare. It’s called Scores and I don’t think it’s really fancy or expensive.”
So we pile into a couple cars and head off to Scores. Our thoughts of “unfancy and inexpensive” were dashed when we pulled into the lot and saw the row of Ferraris, Lambos, etc. We park (down the street, for free) and head inside. $20+ cover charge to get in the door. At this point it’s pretty obvious we’re in over our heads but dammit, we’re gonna show [REDACTED] (the groom) a fancypants fun time. Unfortunately, we had no idea that to get a table required some pre-ordered bottle service. We were in no condition to do this, so we stood along the back bar quietly sipping our cheap beers, wondering what we got ourselves into. The strippers took pity on us and came and hang out with us in between rounds of the floor. It was pretty pathetic. In the sunken booths in front of us was a large group of people carrying on. Yep, it’s Michael Irvin and his entourage.
We’re standing there awkwardly between the bar and Irvin’s booth, kind of relishing our proximity to fame, but without the balls or money to make any noise.
[REDACTED], the upstanding, straight-laced, god-fearing groom, is grumbling about Irvin’s flamboyance and how he’s a terrible player and a terrible person and has ruined football, etc. etc. He is drunk. He is speaking a little too loud. Michael Irvin turns around, glares, and says…”what you say about me?”
[REDACTED], emboldened like hasn’t been before or since, says, “you heard me, I said you sucked, man. Couldn’t stand you.”
We’re expecting to be thrown out or worse. Irvin stares for a second, starts laughing his ass off, and says “get your ass down here, man.” Has the bouncer bring [REDACTED] down into his semi-private booth. Michael Irvin says, “I’ll buy you a drink if you say I’m the best ever.”
[REDACTED]: “NO WAY MAN, YOU SUCK!” (but in a friendly mock-outrage). We’re now all buddies for life. Irvin’s got a stack of comped-drink chips that he starts handing out to all of us (we’re all standing right behind his sunken booth). Irvin autographs Scores hats for all of us, covers the tab, buys lapdances for [REDACTED], sends him to the champagne room multiple times, and is just in general the nicest, most accessible person in the place. At the end of the night, he hugs everyone, congratulates the groom-to-be, insists on autographing a hat for his bride, and that was that.
[22:24] Spencer Hall: This is the greatest story ever told.
And that, dear readers, is the story of the time I hung out at a strip club with Michael Irvin and lived to tell about it.