Jim Irwin Remembered/Special Assignment

Irwin one-on-one with Mike Jacobs

CREATED May 2, 2011 - UPDATED: Jan 23, 2012

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  • Video by wtmj.com


Note: This story aired on TODAY'S TMJ4 before Irwin's death.  We present Mike Jacobs' story again to you.

SAN DIEGO - Jim Irwin was the voice of the Green Bay Packers for 30 years--broadcasting more than 600 consecutive games.

However, while the Packers were battling the Pittsburgh Steelers in the Super Bowl this year, Irwin was battling a much more formidable opponent: cancer.

Mike Jacobs: "What was it like when you got that initial diagnosis?

Irwin: "You know what, it was devastating to my family of course, but they've just been rock solid all along here."

Irwin was diagnosed with kidney cancer about 6 months ago. He's had seven exhausting rounds of chemo, but he's hopeful. "The results have been very positive. Progressing very well. The doctor is extremely pleased, and initially we were going to have surgery. And now there's no mention of having any kind of surgery at all...and I can feel my energy rising every day."

Irwin lives in a lovely home overlooking a reservoir and a golf course, just north of San Diego. He and his wife Gloria moved out West several years ago to be near family. He credits them, especially his wife, with helping him get through this difficult time. Gloria is his best friend and care giver.

"I never thought of anything other than 'OK, then let's get rid of it. Let's get well. I've always had a positive attitude,'" Irwin insists.

Irwin and his longtime sidekick Max McGee retired after the final game of the Packers season in 1998. He wore his Superbowl 31 ring as a good luck charm during this year's Superbowl 45 game.

Irwin recalls, "Every time there would be a close play, which started with my grandson, he ran over and started rubbing the ring. Well by the time we got to the fourth quarter and the last series by the Steelers, everybody was rubbing the ring."

Irwin was inducted into the Packers Hall of Fame in 2003. Truth be told, his Hall of Fame ring means more than his Super Bowl ring.

He points to it and says, "This one over here, the Green Bay Packer Hall of Fame, represents a career. A profession. And it probably has more.. not probably.. it does have more meaning to me than the Super Bowl ring does."

He misses the Packer broadcasts, and he especially misses the fans, but he loves retirement.

Jacobs: "How is your golf game?"

Irwin: "Uh....next question!"

Irwin has lost about 35 pounds during his battle with cancer, so his golf game isn't quite what it used to be. He vows to be back.

Jacobs: "On a ten scale, rate your life."

Irwin: "Is there a 12 or a 14?"

Just like all those Packer victories he's called, Jim Irwin intends to defeat the most daunting foe of his life.

He says, "Obviously, we are going to win the battle. There isn't any question in my mind because we're well on the way to doing that."