There are a lot of people criticizing Stephen A. Smith for describing New England Patriots’ receiver Josh Gordon’s struggles with substance abuse as “self-inflicted,” and one of the latest is someone who’s battled substance abuse issues himself; NFL Network analyst Michael Irvin.
Irvin went on Boston radio station WEEI Friday with Rob Bradford and Steve DeOssie, and discussed his own experiences while also criticizing Smith’s take.
“Usually everybody’s opinion is garnered from their own experience and Stephen A. has never been in that situation,” Irvin said.
Irvin then got deeper into his own battles.
“I can’t tell you the amount of regret I live with thinking about some of the decisions I made,” he said. “Every day of my life I think about it … I had a great career even though I have those issues. The regret I Iive with is insurmountable. If I live with the kind of regret I live with and still was able to accomplish those things, I’m so worried about his future.”
Irvin said “you need something to continue to pull you out” and Gordon “won’t have anything” without football.
“It’s a life-saver for so many people,” Irvin said of the game. “It was a life-saver for me. We’ve got to use the game to save lives.”
Irvin’s whole commentary here is interesting, but it’s perhaps particularly notable to see him going after Smith. We can add him to the chorus of media that have done that, from For The Win to Deadspin to Sports Illustrated to Armen Keteyian to Cris Carter, and even Smith’s ESPN colleague Louis Riddick (although Riddick didn’t specifically mention Smith, his take sure refuted Smith’s), but Irvin’s opinion is worth mentioning considering that he’s dealt with some of the same issues at play here. And there aren’t too many cases where NFL Network analysts directly take shots at ESPN personalities. Perhaps that only reinforces how far outside the realms of acceptable discourse Smith ventured here, though.