Jim Irsay Scrambles Back to Peyton Manning with Statue, Jersey Retirement, But Can’t Escape His Past Statements
When Irsay was begging for Manning to retire as a Colt in the weeks leading up to and after Super Bowl 50, I was 100 percent against it. Maybe if Manning had lost 50, but he didn’t.
I’ll give it to Irsay; he tried his best to appeal to Manning and make him feel again like a part of the franchise and city that Irsay ran him out of four years ago. Irsay and Manning held a conference in Indianapolis honoring the quarterback Friday at which Irsay announced both plans for a Peyton Manning Statue to be erected in front of Lucas Oil Stadium and the retirement of the No. 18 jersey.
“I just can’t say enough to what he’s meant to this franchise, this city, this state,” said Irsay. “You just run out of words thinking about how much No. 18 means to us. It was always strange watching 18 out there without the horseshoe on his helmet. I think I speak for all Colts fans when I say, ‘He’s ours.’”
And, of course, while Manning was reminiscing on the great times he had over his 14 seasons with the Colts franchise, he couldn’t help but recall the state of Indianapolis when he arrived there as the first overall pick in 1998.
“It was basketball, basketball, basketball, and it was car racing, car racing, car racing,” said Manning. “Football was probably in that third priority. That’s simply no longer the case. This is a football town, and it’s as good a football town as any.”
In other words, Irsay should be kissing his ass because if Manning had never come along the Colts would have been forced to relocate…again. And Irsay sure as hell wouldn’t have that beautiful new stadium.
Of course, it’s tough for me to take Irsay’s side on just about anything.
I was okay with Irsay’s decision to cut Manning after taking the quarterback’s advice and drafting Andrew Luck. It was tough, but with Manning coming off a serious neck surgery, it was permissible. What was inexcusable was Irsay’s behavior following the roster move.
“We’ve changed our model a little bit because we wanted more than one of these,” said Irsay playing with his Super Bowl XLI ring which he wouldn’t have without Manning. “Brady never had consistent numbers, but he has three of these. Pittsburgh had two, the Giants had two, Baltimore had two, and we had one. That leaves you frustrated.”
Yes, the Patriots, Steelers, Giants, and Ravens also had the one thing Peyton wouldn’t be blessed with until 2015—a championship-caliber defense. But continue being an ass, Irsay.
“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 and Reggie.”
“Mostly, you love this,” finished Irsay, again motioning towards the championship ring.
Some people argued that Irsay was just playing mind games since he waited until the Denver Broncos came to visit to take shots at Manning, but that doesn’t excuse anything. Call me old fashion, but it’s usually not polite to throw shade at the man who saved your team, won you a Super Bowl, and practically built you a stadium.
So, it’ll be a while before I trust or appreciate Irsay again, but I will confess Friday was a big step in the right direction.