LeRoy Irvin played cornerback and returned punts for the Los Angeles Rams from 1980 to 1989. Known as a guy who consistently made big plays, Irvin hauled in 34 interceptions in his ten seasons with the Rams and was electric returning punts. The Rams great holds the record for punt return yards in a game, tallying 207 yards in a 1981 matchup with the Atlanta Falcons. I had the privilege of speaking with Irvin to talk about his career and the current state of the Rams.
I just wanted to start out by talking about the current state of the Rams, what do you think about the way this team is headed?
“It all starts with Sean McVay who has done a great job changing the culture that surrounds this team. The organization also did a good job in the offseason, picking up Woods and Watkins. The left tackle (Andrew Whitworth) has gone a long way in solidifying the offensive line and the Rams struck gold drafting Cooper Kupp. Jared Goff is proving that he is everything we all believed he could be and that has really allowed Todd Gurley to shine. In the second half of the season the Rams have a tough road ahead, it will be a true test of how good they really are.”
Being a former defensive back, how do you feel about this secondary?
“This secondary has been good, but they could be better. John Johnson has played well at safety in his rookie year and Tru has played good, he’s one of the best corners in the game right now. LaMarcus Joyner is a guy that makes them more versatile with how athletic he is, you can never have too many good defensive backs.”
You were a big play guy with a lot of electric plays in your career, what were some of your favorite moments?
“I had lots of great moments in my career but that 1981 game with the most punt return yards in a single in NFL history is probably the highlight game of my career. However, after growing up a Cowboys, going in there and getting some picks on Monday Night Football was really cool as well.”
Being a big play guy you were forced to take risks, how did your unit as a whole communicate when going to make big plays?
“I always played with great other guys in the secondary and we would study the other team and find out their tendencies. We would pick out certain situations to take chances and let our safeties know that we need them to be there over the top. I would try to jump the hitch, so I needed somebody to be there over the top in case they went with a hitch-and-go. Our defensive backs coach actually just found out about this three years ago, we were all laughing.”
This is a young team that would be in the playoffs if the season ended today, how did your game change in the playoffs?
“The playoffs are a whole other game, everything is elevated. You have more national attention and one mistake could send you home. Preparation is so important and you need to make sure not to get lured into the idea that there’s always next year. Sometimes there is no next year and you need to make this year count.”
Can you talk a little bit about what rivalry games meant?
“Well a lot of times people think that you are more amped up for rivalry games and that’s true. It was different because regardless of whether it was a rivalry game we really had to play at a high level against the Niners because they had Joe (Montana) and Jerry (Rice) and I was responsible for covering Jerry.”
“Now the rivalry is a little different because of Seattle. The Rams and 49ers will always be a good rivalry but sometimes it is lessened when the teams aren’t winning. The Rams rivalry with Seattle is something that could become more of an item in the coming years because Seattle has been winning and even when the Rams weren’t they always played well against Seattles. Now that the Rams are winning the rivalry is set to get even bigger. It’s definitely extra when the fans are so jacked up about a game but you prepare just as much.”
What do you expect from this Rams team the rest of the way?
“The second half of the season will be a good test for this team. The weather is going to change and you have to be able to run the ball, which the Rams have proven they can do. A lot of tough matchups ahead but all winnable games. I would not be surprised to see this team pick up at least four more wins in the second half, even though I only predicted an eight win season originally.”
I want to thank LeRoy Irvin for speaking with me and taking the time, his stories of his playing days were amazing.
– Andrew Kelly is the Managing Editor for cover32.com/Rams and covers the Los Angeles Rams. He also writes national and fantasy content for cover32. Like and follow on Follow @Andrew_K47 Follow @cover32_LAR