DALLAS – Michael Irvin says he has been suspended by ESPN for one week for not telling the network about his arrest last week, when police found a drug pipe hidden in his car during a traffic stop.
Irvin, who has maintained that the pipe belonged to a friend, told The Associated Press on Thursday that he won't return to the air until Dec. 11. He was arrested Friday in Plano for an outstanding warrant on an unpaid speeding ticket but was charged with misdemeanor possession of drug paraphernalia after police searched his car.
ESPN did not learn of Irvin's arrest until reporters began calling the network Sunday night. Irvin said he didn't tell the network about his arrest because he was scared.
"I was just scared, hoping and praying that maybe it would go away," Irvin said. "I was told that I paid the fine and it was over. I was hoping it was over."
ESPN spokesman Josh Krulewitz said the network doesn't comment on specific personnel records. On Monday, the network had said it expected Irvin to appear on the air Sunday for NFL Countdown.
Irvin, a former wide receiver with the Dallas Cowboys and semifinalist for the Pro Football Hall of Fame, said he had no problem with the suspension.
"Being an employee and not giving them the information, certainly it's fair," Irvin said.
Plastic baggies with marijuana residue were found in a sunglasses case along with the pipe in Irvin's car. Irvin said he put the items there after finding them on a friend who arrived at his house in Carrollton, Texas, on Thanksgiving. Irvin said he planned to throw the items away but forgot.
Irvin had said his friend, whom he's known for 17 years, had checked himself out of a Houston rehab center earlier in the week.
Irvin was driving with his wife in the car Friday afternoon when he was pulled over for going 78 mph in a 60 mph zone. Irvin was released after paying a $335 fine for the arrest warrant and a $256 bond. The paraphernalia charge is a Class C misdemeanor, punishable by up to a $500 fine.
Irvin said Thursday he's been in "shutdown mode" since the story broke, not checking phone messages or watching television. He said the arrest won't deter him from continuing to help his friends but said he would now handle a similar situation differently — namely, by not touching anything.
"I need to take a better approach toward things," Irvin said.
In 1996, Irvin pleaded no contest to felony cocaine possession in exchange for four years of deferred probation, a $10,000 fine and dismissal of misdemeanor marijuana possession charges. He also was arrested on drug possession charges in 2000, but they were later dropped.
Irvin won three Super Bowls in four years with the Dallas Cowboys as part of an offense that also featured Troy Aikman and Emmitt Smith. A vocal, emotional leader, he set every significant career receiving mark in team history before retiring because of an injury suffered in 1999.