Indianapolis Colts owner and CEO Jim Irsay is a man who isn't afraid to speak his mind.
His Twitter feed is constant proof of that.
UPDATE: Wednesday, , Oct. 16 at 11:35 a.m. ET
Precisely when we think Irsay is done tweeting on a controversial topic, he tweets again:
My comments meant if we gave Peyton better SP Teams n Def,we would have won more than 1 Sup/Bowl,instead of asking Peyton 2do too much— Jim Irsay (@JimIrsay) October 16, 2013
It's hard 2C how any individual could understand them any other way,but CONTRO sells so I understand the games "Let's get something started"— Jim Irsay (@JimIrsay) October 16, 2013
The first tweet sounds like somewhat of a back-off his initial comments regarding Peyton Manning.
He's right, though. Controversy sells. It's hard to fault Irsay for being honest when most owners would give the bland, politically correct response in this situation.
---End of update---
UPDATE: Wednesday, Oct. 16 at 9:10 a.m. ET
Irsay, a man never short on words, attempted to clarify his feelings toward Peyton Manning by sending out a quartet of tweets just past midnight on Tuesday:
Those expressing negatIvity about the concept of building well rounded teams around great QBs 2 achieve Championships have negative agendas— Jim Irsay (@JimIrsay) October 16, 2013
The noise doesn't bother me,to quote the most loved Ind Colt of all time"I wanted to stay,Jim wanted me to stay,circumstances forced r hand"— Jim Irsay (@JimIrsay) October 16, 2013
So Colt Fans,we're gonna have a fantastic tribute for Peyton..an incredible,historic football game!! Hopefully a memorable,close ball game!— Jim Irsay (@JimIrsay) October 16, 2013
4 old time sake,a few Peyton completions to old teammates..only this time defensive old teammates like #41:) :) :) Let's bring good energy!— Jim Irsay (@JimIrsay) October 16, 2013
Ah, yes...humor. Humor will ease the tension.
---End of update---
His willingness to speak his mind occasionally gets Irsay in hot water. This time though, it's his team that's going to pay for Irsay's big mouth.
With the Colts coming off a listless loss to the San Diego Chargers and getting ready for a matchup with the undefeated Denver Broncos, Irsay picked now to tell Jarrett Bell of USA Today his thought process behind the series of events that led to the release of quarterback Peyton Manning and the selection of Andrew Luck with the first pick in the 2012 NFL draft.
"We've changed our model a little bit, because we wanted more than one of these," Irsay says, flicking up his right hand to show his Super Bowl XLI championship ring.
"You make the playoffs 11 times, and you're out in the first round seven out of 11 times. You love to have the Star Wars numbers from Peyton and Marvin (Harrison) and Reggie (Wayne). Mostly, you love this."
Then Irsay flicks up his right hand again.
No, really. He said that. Out loud.
Irsay, who said that Manning told him "You've got to take Andrew," characterized the Tony Dungy and Manning-led team that won Super Bowl XLI as "Jekyll-and-Hyde schizophrenic," compared to this year's power-running, Luck-led club.
If that wasn't a shot at Manning, then it has to be the most backhanded compliment in history.
Before we go any further, none of this is any sort of indictment of Luck, head coach Chuck Pagano, or the Colts themselves. Even after the setback in San Diego, the Colts are in first place in the AFC South, and they showed with wins over the Seattle Seahawks in Indy and San Francisco 49ers on the road that Indianapolis is a team to be reckoned with.
But seriously, what was Irsay thinking?
First off, the notion that Peyton Manning was somehow "to blame" for the Colts only appearing in two Super Bowls and only winning one is preposterous.
From 2002-2010, Manning led the Colts to nine straight 10-win seasons. He won the NFL MVP four times while in Indianapolis. In addition to the two Super Bowl appearances, Manning and the Colts made it to within one game of the Super Bowl in 2003.
Yes, the Colts suffered a number of postseason setbacks, and Manning wasn't at his best in many of those games. Neither was the defense. Opposing quarterbacks like Ben Roethlisberger and Tom Brady had something to do with that too.
If Luck enjoys half the success in Indianapolis that Manning had, he'll be considered a hero. In any event, Dungy isn't buying what Irsay's selling, according to Mike Klis of The Denver Post (via Will Brinson of CBS Sports):
I can tell you it wasn't a no-brainer. I was on the phone with Jim Irsay probably five or six times over a month as it was leading up to that. He knew all those factors that you just enumerated there. But Jim also had a great deal of loyalty. Jim was a young boy when his dad traded Johnny Unitas. So he knew the ramifications of this type of decision. And he also knew how much Peyton had done for the city of Indianapolis and for that franchise.
So even for all the reasons you just stated why it should be done, I don't think it was ever a no-brainer in his mind and I can almost guarantee you that if he knew he was going to be healthy like this and playing this kind of football, in hindsight I don't think he would have done it.
Let's say, for argument's sake, that Dungy doesn't know what he's talking about and that Irsay hasn't had a single moment of regret or second-guessing since the Colts eschewed Manning for Luck.
That still leaves this small matter:
Why would any sensible person pick now as the time to make these statements?
All Irsay has managed to do is the fan the flames. Fuel the fire leading up to Sunday's game. In fact, Denver John Fox has already confirmed to at Kirwan and Jim Miller of SiriusXM NFL Radio (via Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk) that we've officially hit bulletin board material:
I saw the comments [from Irsay] and to be honest with you I thought it was a bit of a cheap shot. To me, in my opinion, they were disappointing and inappropriate. I mean, Peyton would never say anything. He’s too classy to do that. But they sounded a little ungrateful and unappreciative to me for a guy that has set a standard, won a Super Bowl, won division titles, won four MVP awards. I’d be thankful with that one Super Bowl ring because there’s a lot of people that don’t have one.
Peyton Manning is an immensely proud quarterback, who is presently at the helm of an offense that's on pace to re-write the record books. Last week's 295 passing yards against the Jacksonville Jaguars was the first time all season that Manning failed to throw for 300 yards.
Irsay's ring-tapping theatrics was a slap in the face to a player who is on a pace for every single-season passing record worth having.
Publicly, Manning will blow this off. He'll say all the right things. He'll profess his respect and admiration for Irsay and his love for the Colts and the time he spent with the team.
That may all be true. It's also true that you can bet the rent that Manning is seething privately.
You can also bet the rent he's going to take it out on the Colts Sunday.
Way to go, Jim.