O’ Captain! My Captain: an open letter to JT Barrett.

“A good act does not wash out the bad, nor a bad act, the good. Each should have its own reward.” – George R.R. Martin


Its the summer of 1998, July 29th to be exact; and the Dallas Cowboys are conducting training camp at Midwestern State in Wichita Falls, your hometown. All was normal that afternoon, as Vinny, the barber for the Cowboys, set up his chair in room 212 of the Cowboys’ dorm and prepared to give a haircut to any player who asked for it. As Vinny finishes with, defensive back, Charlie Williams, clippers in hand, Everett McIver sits down. But not so fast, superstar wide out, Michael Irvin walks in the room and he’s looking for a haircut. “Seniority!” Irvin screams in an attempt to get McIver out of the chair. McIver doesn’t move. “SENIORITY! SENIORITY!” again screams Irvin, to no avail. “Man I’m almost done, give me another few minutes” says McIver. “Either I get cut now, or nobody does!” exclaims Irvin. Everett McIver then stands and shoves Irvin. Irvin shoves him back and the fight is on. After McIver punches Irvin, Irvin reaches for a pair of scissors that belonged to Vinny and cuts the throat of Everett McIver. A silence falls over the dorm as blood shoots throughout the room from Everett McIver’s neck. He is eventually taken to the hospital. However, this was not Michael Irvin’s first incident during his career. Two years earlier, Irvin was found on the floor, in a hotel room where he was arrested for drug posession.

I say all of that to say, the Michael Irvin, that we knew and loved in the 90’s is completely different from the Michael Irvin that we know and love now. He was young, and like we all do, he made mistakes. Yet, he redeemed himself. As low as he felt that he had fallen, he redeemed himself. I’m sure where you have been in past week, or even where you are now, feels like that. Like you’ve reached a low point and this is as low as you can go; but you too can redeem yourself.

Simply put, all there is to do in situations such as these, is learn the lesson and move on. Move on because no one is going to be harder on you, than you. Move on because one mistake doesn’t define you. Move on because you are the captain of the ship, and without its captain, the ship is lost. Pick yourself up, dust yourself off, take the helm and lead this ship to its destination.

“O’ Captain my captain, the fearful trip is done. The ship has weathered every rack. The prize we sought is won.” – Walt Whitman.


  1. That was beautiful. I hope JT knows that we will be rallying around him. I think his road to redemption is a lot shorter than Michael Irvin’s. Thank you for writing this.

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