#Colts Owner @JimIrsay Has A Lot To Say
By Corbin Smith
Throughout the course of the offseason, the Indianapolis Colts worked tirelessly to fix an offensive line that allowed starting quarterback Andrew Luck to be hit more than any other quarterback in the NFL. General manager Ryan Grigson signed former Detroit Lions starting tackle Gosder Cherilus to bring much-needed experience to line and veteran Donald Thomas also signed with the team to provide an upgrade at left guard. Based on owner Jim Irsay's comments via Twitter this week, the Colts offense has a long way to go to meet his expectations.
Luck ended up being sacked four times during Sunday’s season opener, and the longtime owner wasn’t pleased to see his prized signal caller taking so many hits. He addressed his thoughts on Sunday’s game by tweeting, “Raider/Colts-- we gotta protect #12 better.and that includes more than just OL...it's backs,TE's,coaches on blitz pick ups..I DEMAND better.”
Irsay, who took over full ownership of the Colts following his father's death in 1997, has never been afraid to speak his mind through use of social media. Whether he's participating in one of his famous contests to give away Colts tickets and cash prizes or bashing his coaches and players for unacceptable performances, he's always finding ways to stay in touch with the team's fan base through Twitter. While not everyone appreciates how candid Irsay can be, he's as passionate of a leader as there is in professional sports, and he wants what is best for his franchise. He understands the game of football from his experience as a general manager, and he's more than willing to open up his wallet if he needs to in order to help the Colts win games.
As a matter of fact, Irsay did open up his checkbook this offseason to bring in reinforcements for an Indianapolis team that shocked the NFL by winning 11 games and reaching the playoffs a year ago. Players like Cherilus, Thomas and safety LaRon Landry never would have come to the Colts this spring if not for the owner allowing Grigson to be aggressive pursuing free agents, and Irsay expects these new parts to earn their paychecks. Even in the preseason, players and coaches are not safe from his wrath if they underperform.
After losing to the Buffalo Bills in the team's first preseason game, he displayed his frustration about the outcome by tweeting "Many starters played briefly or were nursing little injuries,but it was a crap performance,my apologies/My commanders got n earful from me!"
This type of response probably wasn’t necessary following a meaningless exhibition game, and as Bob Kravitz of the Indy Star pointed out, Irsay should keep some of his thoughts to himself. Fans love having an owner who creates conversation pieces using social media like Twitter, but being too involved on social media can also produce distaste toward an organization if used improperly. Most of the time, Irsay’s viewpoints are funny and generate a positive response, but that’s not always the case.
Fans have a legitimate beef about preseason ticket prices being the same as regular season games. Nobody wants to pay $150 for a mid-level seat to see Luck play one series and then watch backups fighting for a roster spot play the remainder of the game. During mid-August, Irsay attempted to rationalize with fans on why preseason games remained so expensive, but it ended up emitting arrogance on his part instead.
During a series of tweets, he argued that games like the Colts-Broncos matchup taking place later this year were “400% under-prized” and that preseason tickets were marked up to balance things out. He may have had good intentions, but that statement only invoked more anger from fans who feel ripped off by the cost of attending exhibition matchups that have no effect on the standings. After being in charge of the franchise for fifteen-plus seasons, Irsay should know better.
For the most part, however, his tweets create a positive vibe with Indy's dedicated fan base. There’s no doubt that Jim Irsay cares about the success of his team, and he brings great accountability to the organization. His remarks about protecting Andrew Luck are warranted based on Sunday's game and once again demonstrate his unwavering commitment towards building and maintaining a winning franchise. His enthusiasm for Colts football remains second to none, his fondness for his fan base continues to be genuine, and his love for the game cannot be understated.
Sometimes, he can cross the line and tweet statements that were best left unsaid, but it’s refreshing to see an NFL owner who has so much involvement with his team and community. Instead of chastising him for sharing his opinion, we should embrace his style.
In a league full of players, coaches and owners who conceal themselves from the media, the NFL needs more real-life characters like Jim Irsay.