What do you get when you mix a Hall of Fame quarterback, a solid offensive line, great wide receivers, a decent running game and a mediocre-at-best defense?
If you are someone like Indianapolis Colts owner Jim Irsay, you get a Super Bowl ring.
And if you are actually Indianapolis Colts owner Jim Irsay, your Super Bowl ring comes with nine empty fingers, a mountain of regret and a media firestorm.
Irsay told Jarrett Bell of USA Today this week that, with Peyton Manning coming back to town for the first time as a member of the Denver Broncos, one ring while Peyton was in Indy just wasn't enough:
"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."
Irsay, per Bell, pointed to his ring.
The Colts owner has been pilloried by some in the media, many of his Twitter followers and even Denver Broncos head coach John Fox who, on SiriusXM NFL Radio, called Irsay's comments "disappointing and inappropriate," per Lindsay Jones of USA Today.
If you read between the lines of what he was trying to say, his comments make sense. The front office put too much pressure on Manning by not creating a balanced enough roster to win more than one Super Bowl. When the Colts finally had what Irsay felt was enough balance, they actually won.
That wasn't Manning's fault, and it doesn't seem like it was Irsay's intention to blame Manning.
It's just that, well, he kind of did.
Irsay admitted he couldn’t bring Manning back and field a more competitive team, so lamenting the fact his team has just one Super Bowl ring to account for the whole Peyton Manning Era—especially while in context of his other comments about changing their model to a more balanced attack with young phenom Andrew Luck—sure reads like Irsay is blaming Manning for not winning enough.
Perhaps, though, Irsay was merely a victim of poor wording, leaving the eccentric Colts owner with his foot stuck his mouth. The one positive thing about getting your foot stuck in your mouth? Both hands are free!
There's tweetin' to be done!
Irsay then went on a four- or five-tweet tirade about Chris Mortensen and other members of the media who he ostensibly calls irresponsible and misleading hypocrites. It all got a little personal. Mortensen apparently challenged Irsay's version of the events regarding Manning's departure from Indy, specifically his gung-ho attitude toward Irsay drafting his replacement with Luck. Irsay's twitter rant toward Mortensen referenced that no media were on the plane to hear what Manning said. Which led to this reply from Mort:
Isn't this why NFL teams have press officers and public relations teams? It's great that Irsay wears his heart on his sleeve and shoots from the proverbial hip when it comes to thoughts on the Colts, but he really dug himself in on this one after a terribly worded quote about his former Hall of Fame quarterback.
Doubling down on the silly quotes never makes sense, even via social media. Hell, especially via social media.
After a bit of a twitter respite, Irsay returned to Twitter to offer this salient point:
That makes sense. There was way too much money put into the Colts offense during the Manning Era, something that should be more of a shot at those who compiled the roster—namely Bill Polian—and not the guy who threw the passes.
What, then, does Polian think of all this? He told SiriusXM NFL Radio, via NFL.com:
I really don't know what to make of it to tell you the truth. I do know that he was very upset after the loss in the second Super Bowl and I think it's pretty telling that getting to the Super Bowl in his mind doesn't count. And for anyone who is in the game and who has to make that journey from training camp to the Super Bowl, you know that it's awfully difficult to get there.
Polian went on to say he's not ashamed of what his teams did in Indianapolis and corrected Irsay's point about Baltimore having two Super Bowls within the Manning Era in Indy, as the Ravens got their second just last year while Peyton was in Denver.
(If one really wanted to be a stickler, the Giants won their second Super Bowl the year Manning was injured, so technically they only had one during the time in which Peyton was actually playing for the Colts.)
Polian was fired by Irsay before last season, essentially replaced by current general manager Ryan Grigson, who has worked tirelessly to reshape the Colts into what Irsay wants—a more balanced team.
Again, Irsay's comments looked like he was ripping Manning when he was more likely ripping Polian. Mortensen seemed to notice that as well, or he wouldn't have tweeted this:
Polian now works at ESPN, with Mortensen. It's all a bit incestuous, really. That's how things get when prominent NFL writers and prominent NFL owners take their beefs to Twitter.
And this is all just for a regular-season game in Week 7. Imagine what will happen if the Colts and Broncos meet in the playoffs.
Irsay may want to put down the tweeting machine if that happens this year. Keep snapping photos though. Those never get you in any trouble.