DALLAS — Former Dallas Cowboys receiver Michael Irvin was charged with misdemeanor possession of drug paraphernalia after Plano police officers searched his vehicle during a traffic stop.

Irvin, an ESPN analyst and semifinalist for the Pro Football Hall of Fame, told The Associated Press late Sunday that the drug pipe found in his car belonged to a friend of 17 years who left a Houston rehab center and came to Irvin’s house in Carrollton for Thanksgiving. Irvin wouldn’t reveal his friend’s name.

Irvin said he put the pipe in his car because he didn’t want it in his house where his children might find it. He said he planned to drive somewhere the next day, like a grocery trash bin, and throw the pipe away but forgot.

“It’s a situation that is not as it seemed,” said Irvin, whose voice was choked with emotion during the telephone conversation.

“I know the type of demons they have to fight and I am going to help them, because it’s the only way I can keep them from getting to my family. I have to clean up my friends because they are around my boys. It’s upsetting.”

Irvin was arrested on an outstanding warrant for speeding in Irving after being pulled over Friday afternoon for speeding in Plano. Irvin said he thought he had paid the outstanding ticket.

Irvin paid a fine on the speeding ticket and posted bond on the drug paraphernalia possession charge. He was released about an hour after he was pulled over.

Irvin was a member of three Super Bowl championship teams with the Cowboys. Asked how this kind of publicity might affect his chances of induction into the hall of fame, Irvin said his helping his friends are more important.

“The whole thing means such a great deal for me, and hopefully one day it will be there,” Irvin said. “But my friends and my family mean a little more. I would rather be helping them, even if it hurts that.”

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. Irvin said Sunday he’s always been transparent and open about his issues in the past, and now wants to help others through those same problems.

Irvin holds Cowboys records for catches (750), receiving yards (11,904) and 100-yard games (47), including a team-record seven in a row in 1991.

ESPN said it has spoken to Irvin, who will still appear on the network Monday as an analyst.

“We’ve talked to Michael, who explained the situation to us the way he did to the AP, and we will continue to talk with Michael,” ESPN spokeman Josh Krulewitz said. “But you can expect him to see him on ‘Monday Night Countdown’ on Monday evening.”

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