Former Mountaineer and current member of the Seattle Seahawks Bruce Irvin tweeted out a heartfelt message of apology in the wake of his 4 game suspension by the NFL for performance enhancing drugs.
In the immediate aftermath of his 4 game suspension by the NFL for use of performance enhancing drugs, former Mountaineer Bruce Irvin issued an apology that was in line with the types of standard issue statements we see when things like this happen.
"I want to apologize to my teammates, coaches and Seahawks fans for making a mistake when I took a substance that is prohibited in the NFL without a medical exemption. "I am extremely disappointed in the poor judgment I showed and take full responsibility for my actions. I will not appeal the discipline and instead will focus my energy on preparing for the season so I can begin earning your trust and respect again. I look forward to contributing to the team the moment I return."
The statement was maybe more heartfelt than most, but smacked of the formulaic verbiage we see with these things taken straight from the sports agent boilerplate. Apologize to your team, apologize to your fans, outline what you did wrong, take responsibility and finally shift your focus to the future.
Rinse, lather, repeat.
Not an hour later, however, we got a reminder via Irvin's personal Twitter account - @BIrvin_WVU11 - of what makes him different. What has set him apart among the Mountaineer faithful as not just a special talent on the field, but a genuine and thoughtful young man off it.
The tweet from Irvin was elegant in it's simplicity. Not an entry on the Seahawk blog or an open letter on his personal site. Instead it was a lone image with no associated text - a simple screenshot of an entry Irvin created with the Notes app on his iPad. Given that it was something that folks not on Twitter might have missed, I thought I'd reproduce it here for you:
"It's crazy to see your name run across the ticker for negative things. I messed up and I feel so bad and have been depressed for weeks now. I've had sleepless nights because I knew when this came out, I would let so many people down, including myself. I have worked so hard to rebuild my image and it takes another blow. I see the negative comments and I see the positive and both drives me to come back and have a incredible season. To my real fans, I see the comments and I really appreciate it during this tuff time. Just shows people only love you when your on top, but when adversity hits they show their true colors. Once again, I'm sorry and take full responsibility for my actions. I will take this on the chin and move forward to become the best person on and off the field. 12th Man I'm sorry I let you down but I promise you when I come back --- all hell will break loose! West Virginia, I love u always and know you have my back and always will. Love on my fans and shout out to my haters I know you loving it right now! #comebackkid #12thman #WVU"
It was the type of genuine message we don't see much of in this era of sanitized images, spokesmen and Q ratings. From the first line, it was clear that Irvin sat down the minute the news broke, soaked it all in on the TV and simultaneously poured his heart out in words.
The best part of the message is you can literally feel him working himself out of the funk as he writes. First he's depressed at seeing his image tarnished, then he's thankful for support and mad at those who have abandoned him. Finally he moves on to the future, but this is no polite nod towards his comeback. No, by this time he's good and worked up and promises that when he returns "all hell will break loose!"
It was everything we Mountaineer fans love about Bruce. His lack of pretense and high level of energy, all let loose in an overwhelmingly positive message that set aside prepared statements vetted by the team and let us know exactly how he felt.
Bruce Irvin will be back, and quite possibly better than before, and for the man who's Twitter handle retains the WVU suffix over a year after he entered the NFL, Mountaineer fans will always have his back.
Get ready for hell.