Football Hall of Famer Michael Irvin said on Friday that NBA superstar LeBron James has emboldened some of his fellow star athletes to act as "partners" with the franchises they play for.
Irvin, appearing with Andy Baskin and Jeff Phelps on WKRK 92.3 in Cleveland, was asked about an unprecedented NFL offseason in which several of the NFL's top quarterbacks are expected, or rumored, to be on the move -- the so-called QB carousel.
The Dallas Cowboys legend suggested the potentially momentous series of transactions were inspired, in part, by James. The four-time NBA MVP's several forays into free agency have been polarizing to say the least, including two departures from his hometown Cavaliers.
Bigger contracts and a tough salary cap have increased the leverage of star players, Irvin claimed.
"I call it the LeBron James Effect," Irvin said. "I said this for years to people. I said, 'You do understand when we start doing these contracts where these guys are having 50, 60, 80 -- and for quarterbacks 100 million -- guaranteed, it's over.'
"There is no more of, the club has dominion over these players. The club -- you have to be partner with these players, because they have power now."
Irvin brought up Texans quarterback Deshaun Watson, who has reportedly requested a trade amid ongoing upheaval in the Houston franchise.
"So, Deshaun Watson -- who makes 40 million dollars a year, for the next four years, for 160 -- if he says, 'I'm just going to sit out this year. I will walk away with 120 instead of the 160. My life won't change much.' Before this year, you're going to be 3-13, and you're going to have a 40 million cap hit sitting right there if you get nothing. ..
"So it will force you to have do something. You might as well understand what I've been saying forever, and work with them, because you can't control them anymore. You have to be partners with them. And that's what all these quarterbacks are recognizing, and now they're starting to demand -- to demand that partnership. 'I want you talking to me.' And I kind of understand that."
Great players are often criticized if they have not won a championship by the end of their careers, but general managers and the other executives who shape the teams are rarely held to such a standard, Irvin argued.
The classic example, Irvin said, was Dolphins legend Dan Marino.
Eagles quarterback Carson Wentz was also reported to have requested a trade, while surprising rumors surfaced this week suggesting Seahawks star Russell Wilson has been unhappy in Seattle, and the feeling may be mutual.