Saturday, September 20, 2008

The profound impact of a star's work ethic

I know a lot of people didn't like Cowboys WR Michael Irvin when he played for Dallas.  Many probably still don't like him.

But love him or hate him, according to a new book by former SI writer Jeff Pearlman, it was Irvin's attitude and work ethic that fueled the Cowboys.  Here's what Pearlman had to say about Irvin in a recent interview:

"Irvin was the hardest worker on that team — hands down. He was the first there, the last to leave, and so many others fed off of that. 

It’s one thing if your scrappy-yet-underwhelming fourth receiver works his tail off. But when a star like Irvin does so, it has a profound impact. 

In the first chapter of the book, I talk about Scott Sepmtimphelter, a free agent quarterback in camp with Dallas in 1995. Semptimphelter recalls throwing extra routes to Irvin after a particularly hot practice, and having Irvin vomit midway through the workout. 

'Most guys would put their hands on their knees, say screw this, and call it a day. Not Michael. He got back to the spot, ran another route, and caught the ball.'"

I've posted here before about how important it is for a team's best player to also be it's hardest worker.  In the words of Bill Belichick:  "You want your best players to really set the pace. That's great environment for everyone else to emulate and try to keep up with."