Bruce Irvin burst out of the locker-room doors and on his way to his first practice with the Falcons and yelled, “I’m free! I’m free!”
He was glad to be out of dysfunctional Oakland and wearing the red and black instead of silver and black.
Irvin, a native of Atlanta, is looking forward to playing for the Falcons (4-4) when they face the Browns (2-6-1) at 1 p.m. Sunday at FirstEnergy Stadium in Cleveland.
“Kind of, yesterday it hit me a little bit,” said Irvin, who signed his one-year deal Wednesday. “I know I looked scared, but I really was crying yesterday. This is a childhood dream for me, man.
“Growing up watching Michael Vick and guys like Terance Mathis, guys like that, this was always my dream. For me to be able to come and live it out was a surreal moment. I’m just very fortunate to be an Atlanta Falcon right now.”
Irvin was drafted 15th overall by Seattle in 2012 and played four seasons for the Seahawks. He wanted to come to the Falcons back then, but Oakland made a more lucrative $27.7 million offer. He’s played two seasons with the Raiders, before falling out of favor with Jon Gruden and the new coaching regime.
He was waived on Monday and cleared waivers. Irvin told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution that he had more lucrative offers from the Patriots and the Steelers, but he wanted to play for the Falcons.
“My agent (Joel Segal) said, ‘every team thinks you’re going to Atlanta,’ ” Irvin said. “I said, under my breathe, they are right.
“It was no comparison. My family is here. My wife is from here. This is a childhood dream. As soon as I got the next opportunity to be here ... I took advantage of it.”
Irvin is expected to play immediately for the Falcons.
“I bring a lot of swag,” Irvin said. “A lot of attitude. I speak my mind. I talk a lot of mess. Just running around and having fun, that’s the biggest thing in this league. Having fun.”
Irvin arguably had his best two seasons in the league under Falcons coach Dan Quinn in 2012 and 2013, when he was the defensive coordinator and the Seahawks went to back-to-back Super Bowls.
“This is my seventh year in the league,” Irvin said. “I understand this is a what have you done for me lately league. Me and (Quinn) can’t sit and dwell on what we did in Seattle and that we won a Super Bowl. It’s about right now. I wanted to be here. I did what I had to do.”
Irvin likes the Falcons’ other pass rusher in Takk McKinley, Vic Beasley, Grady Jarrett and Jack Crawford.
“It’s a great room of guys who really want to come out here and get better every day,” Irvin said. “I think I’m just a little icing on the top. I’ve been around. I’ve had success and I know what it takes to be successful. I’m not here to step on anybody’s toes. I’m just here to contribute and be the best Bruce that I can be.”
The Falcons have 17 sacks on the season, which ranks 27th out of 32 teams in the league. They are hoping Irvin can help them ramp up the pass rush.
Irvin discussed his rough upbringing in Atlanta and how he wanted the Falcons to sign him the last time he was a free agent.
Irvin has talked about his days of being homeless and living on the streets of Atlanta.
He had a rugged home life and was expelled from his house by his mother, Bessie Lee. Irvin attempted to move from Stockbridge to Stephenson High, but ended up never playing in high school.
Irvin was living with drug dealers in Gwinnett County. He decided to turn his life around after the house was raided by law-enforcement officers while he was off on run to the QuikTrip. He decided to get his GED and started to turn his life around.
He had bonded with former Stephenson players Perry Riley (LSU, seven years in the NFL), Jermaine Cunningham (Florida, 2010-14 in the NFL) and Kelvin Sheppard (LSU, who’s in his seventh year in the NFL).
“I was out in the streets doing stuff and those guys were getting four-year scholarships to Florida and LSU,” Irvin said. “It hurt me to see those guys going off to school and I was around here doing God knows what.
“It was motivation for me. Look at me now. I out-lasted Perry and Jermaine. Sheppard just got on (with the Lions). It was a motivation factor, but I’m glad I figured it out and got my head on straight.”
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