?ON HIS HIGH SCHOOL FOOTBALL HIGHLIGHT I played two years, and my dad [Irvin] coached me. We weren't that good. The most fun and my best game, we played Long Beach (Miss.) High. My cousin was their starting nosetackle. I ran for a couple touchdowns. I punted. Our running back got kicked out of the game, so I returned kicks. On the last play we had the ball deep in their territory, and Dad called a handoff. But it was one of many times in my career I disobeyed the coach, all the way up to today. I ran it in. I land in the end zone, the place is going crazy, and Dad is out there yelling, 'Boy, what the hell you doin' not handin' off?'
?ON FRIDAY-NIGHT LIGHTS OUT The high school games were at 7:30, and I'd go home afterward. That was it. There was nothing to do. The school was in the middle of nowhere. I was determined to be a football or baseball player, and I had a weight bench so I'd work out. No cable TV. No video games. Eat, talk about the game, work out, go to bed.
?ON HIS BEDROOM I shared a room with my brothers, Scott and Jeff. They slept together in a king-sized bed. I always thought that was weird. I had a sofa bed. Our walls and ceiling were covered with pictures. You couldn't see one piece of paneling. I would lie in bed, look up and see Walter Payton, Jim McMahon, Elway, Marino, Montana. Baseball caps. Banners.
?ON WEEKENDS I was obsessed with high school sports. Saturdays, I'd get the paper and study the games. Now the only thing I care about in the paper is the crossword. Sundays, Dad would have us chopping firewood. We wouldn't need it. We'd have stacks of it, but he'd make us chop more.
?ON THE OUTDOOR LIFE The only time we came inside was when Mom yelled, 'Food's ready!' We'd come running. She'd make a big breakfast, with pancakes or fried eggs, grits, biscuits.
?ON HIS BB GUN One Christmas, Scott and I got Red Riders. The rules were, don't shoot at each other, don't shoot at other people. That's all we needed to hear. We'd go in the yard, shooting at each other. I got Scott in the chin once. BB stuck right in his chin. Got my ass tore up for that one.
?ON GOING TO SOUTHERN MISS At Hancock we ran the Wing T my senior year. I maybe threw for 400 yards all year. Mark McHale, the line coach for Southern Miss, said to Dad, 'You want us to sign your son, he's got to throw the ball.' Dad'd say, 'Come by for pregame. He'll throw it in pregame.' He kept coming back to games. They had three quarterbacks commit. One dropped out, so there was a spot for me. If I didn't go there, I probably would have gone to junior college. Who knows what would have happened if that kid hadn't pulled out of Southern Miss. --As told to Peter King