Full day's work sets Ring tone [size=-1]By Charean Williams[/size] [size=-1]Star-Telegram Staff Writer[/size] IRVING - It's an unusual day for Michael Irvin. For starters, he's spending a rare Monday in town. Then, there's the whole Ring of Honor thing. "This is special," Irvin said early Monday afternoon. "It's the first time since the Philly game that the three of us [Irvin, Troy Aikman and Emmitt Smith] are dressed in the same uniform like we will be tonight. ... This moment is going to carry us forever, because the greatest thing we have are our memories." Irvin's 12-year career ended Oct. 10, 1999, when he jammed his head into the artificial turf at Veterans Stadium. Doctors later discovered he had a narrow spinal column. Irvin was the first of "The Triplets" to retire. Aikman followed a year later, and Smith called it quits in February after two seasons with Arizona. All three now are in TV. Irvin's second career is spent at ESPN, where he spends four to five days a week on the road during football season. One of the best receivers in the game, he now is regarded as one of the best studio analysts in the game, having recently been nominated for a Sports Emmy. "He was pretty good to begin with, with his exuberant personality and his positive energy," said Mike Leber, the coordinating producer for ESPN's Monday Night Countdown. "But he works very hard at it. I think this has taken him back to his days with Jimmy Johnson. He wants to be coached." The Cowboys miss him. The countdown Irvin's day began when his alarm went off at 6 a.m. It was early, considering he had flown back from Bristol, Conn., where he had done ESPN's Sunday NFL Countdown show, to attend the Cowboys' Ring of Honor party held at Texas Stadium on Sunday night. Before he even begins work, Irvin has worked out at Lifetime Fitness, met with sub-contractors about the house he is building in Plano and helped his wife, Sandy, deal with the 100 ticket requests he had. "It's a huge day, very huge," Irvin says, "and it's a blessing." 12:05 p.m. -- The Renaissance is bustling with Cowboys fans. They get a treat when Irvin, wearing Nike basketball shorts, a sleeveless Nike shirt and a Monday Night Countdown baseball cap walks into the lobby. 1:30 p.m. -- Having forgotten most of his radio interviews in the morning, he fulfills his commitment to Dan Patrick. 1:55 p.m. -- Irvin is interrupted by a visibly shaken parking attendant at the hotel. "Mr. Irvin, we had to move your car," he told Irvin. "We had a situation." A woman has leaped to her death, landing near Irvin's car. Irvin can't believe it. 2:25 p.m. -- Irvin leaves for his home in Carrollton, where he changes into a pinstripe suit, custom-made in Los Angeles, and puts on his Super Bowl ring from the 1995 season. Despite what he later says at a news conference -- "I don't know [which of the three rings it is]. I just grabbed one going out the door" -- he picked it because it is silver, matching his dark suit, his silver wedding ring and his black watch. 3:45 p.m. -- "Have you seen Michael?" someone asks. Tom Jackson, Chris Mortensen and Stuart Scott have been in the ESPN trailer just outside the stadium for almost an hour. Irvin arrives just before his 4:15 p.m. news conference. "Let's go TV guy," Cowboys public relations director Rich Dalrymple says, hurrying him along. 4:40 p.m. -- Irvin is sweating in the 95-degree heat as he climbs into his anchor chair for a short dress rehearsal. "This is miserable," Irvin says. 5:19 p.m. -- As he walks to the other end of the field, Irvin admires highlights of himself on the replay board. "I looked fine in my youth," he says. 5:22 p.m. -- Irvin is back on the set, getting his face powdered over and over again to cover up the sweat. 5:30 p.m. -- "We've got a very special and very different show tonight," Scott says, opening the pregame show. For the next hour, Irvin, Jackson and Scott talk everything football. Irvin isn't shy about giving his opinion, which is why he is good at this new job. 6:30 p.m. -- Now off the air, it takes Irvin 15 minutes to walk to the other end of the field. He signs autographs, poses for pictures, exchanges handshakes and hugs, and hears his name yelled over and over again. "He never wants to turn anyone down," says Susan Haber, Irvin's agent. "He lives for this." Irvin is asked if there is anywhere he can go anymore where he is not greeted by name. "Yeah, home," he says, before adding with a laugh, "I'm just kidding." 6:45 p.m. -- Owner Jerry Jones catches Irvin taking a plate of food in the media serving area downstairs. "Is this where the media hangs out?" Jones asks. Irvin gets meat, a salad and a Diet Pepsi and takes it back to the ESPN trailer, where he had hoped to watch the start of the Saints-Giants game, only to find out that workers already have pulled the plug. 7:04 p.m. -- Irvin retreats to Jerry Jones' stadium office to watch the early NFL game with Smith. 8 p.m. -- Irvin goes up to a suite to watch the first half of the Cowboys' game. 9:26 p.m. -- Irvin is escorted out to the field for the ceremony. Asked if he was nervous, he shook his head negatively. It was his first such ceremony to witness. 9:32 p.m. -- The first one of The Triplets to be introduced, Irvin thanks his wife, his teammates, the Cowboys already in the Ring of Honor and "most of all" the fans. Irvin stares at his name a long time after it is unveiled in the Ring as the crowd of 65,207 stands and cheers. 9:43 p.m. -- With his daughter in his arms, Irvin leaves the field teary eyed. At the top of the tunnel, the Ring of Honor members in attendance pose for pictures. Irvin has Aikman on one arm and Roger Staubach on the other. Irvin, despite his off-field troubles, never doubted this day would come. "I knew one day I would be in the Ring, for what it stands for and what we accomplished," he says. "This is Dallas. These people spent their lives with me. It's like a family: 'We were hurt and upset with you, but, son, we still love you.' ... I don't know that they'll hold it against me in the Hall [of Fame], but this is Dallas, and I can't write my life story without Dallas."