Michael Irvin said he was driving to the gym when robbers pulled alongside him and flashed a gun at him as he drove in Dallas at about 9 p.m.
"Absolutely I was afraid," he said. "I was very afraid."
Irvin, who was driving a new, white Range Rover, said a truck followed him to a stoplight.
"I was looking in my rear-view (mirror), and I saw this black truck flying up behind me," he said.
The passenger rolled down his window and pointed a gun at him.
Irvin said his work on the field may have saved his life because the would-be carjacker recognized him.
"He put it away, because he recognized me. He said, 'Hey, Mike Irvin, what's up? Mike Irving, man, we are big Cowboy fans,'" Irvin said.
Irvin, who was known as "The Playmaker," said he knew his next play may be his most important one yet.
He followed the man's lead and started talking about the Cowboys.
"And I was like, 'Yeah man, you know, I miss playing, and boy, I'm sorry we couldn't win a Super Bowl this year,' because I'm just trying to get his mind on something else so he doesn't pull that gun back up again," Irvin said.
He said his pistol-packing fans sped off after several minutes.
"I was like, 'Wow, you were a coward there, Michael,'" he said. "Even when he pulled off, I still did not get that license plate."
Irvin said he is thanking God for his life and his legacy with the Dallas Cowboys.
"'I'm a huge Cowboy fan' it never sounded so sweet before like it did last night, even coming from him," he said.
Irvin, a husband and father of four, said he went home and hugged his wife and children, saying it never felt so good.
Police said they do not have any suspects in the case.