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Extra Points: Irsay makes things tougher for Colts
By John McMullen, NFL Editor
Philadelphia, PA (SportsNetwork.com) - Jim Irsay certainly isn't afraid to stir things up.
The outspoken and often brash Indianapolis Colts owner took aim at his former starting quarterback earlier this week just as Peyton Manning prepares to return to Indianapolis for the first time since his departure before the 2012 season.
Manning's exit from the Hoosier State was inevitable and the divorce was hardly acrimonious. The four-time MVP was attempting to recover from four different surgical procedures on his neck, and the Colts were focused on their future and Andrew Luck.
"(Manning) said, 'You've got to take Andrew (Luck),' (in the 2012 draft)" Irsay recalled during an interview with USA TODAY Sports. "'You have to. You're crazy if you don't.'"
General manager Ryan Grigson wasn't in need of any antipsychotics and did indeed draft Luck with the No. 1 overall pick in 2012 after moving on from Manning, who subsequently signed with the Broncos, leaving behind a 141-67 regular-season record with the Colts, along with 54,828 passing yards, 399 touchdown throws and a sterling 94.9 passer rating.
That in addition to 11 playoff appearances and a Super Bowl XLI title.
Manning hasn't slowed down even remotely in the Rockies and currently leads the NFL with 2,179 passing yards, 22 touchdown passes -- the most ever through the first six games of a season -- and a 128.8 passer rating this year.
Meanwhile, he returns to Indianapolis in search of a 17th straight regular- season win as Denver's starting QB, something Irsay correctly claims would have been untenable if Peyton stayed with the Colts.
"Circumstances created this decision," Irsay said. "You have to understand there's no way this occurs if he's in Indy. It's just impossible, where our salary cap was. Having him stay at the type of number that he expected and deserved to earn and all those things."
Manning was indeed set to earn a $28 million bonus if he stayed with the Colts. Luck, on the other hand, is still dealing with the rookie salary cap and counts just $5.025 million against the Colts' spending limit.
Irsay should have put a period on his comments there, welcomed Manning back with open arms and everything would have been fine. Instead, he took aim at the veteran's so-so postseason resume.
"We've changed our model a little bit, because we wanted more than one of these," Irsay said while showing off his Super Bowl XLI championship ring. "(Tom) 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."
Evidently frustrated enough to continue venting nonsense.
"You make the playoffs 11 times, and you're out in the first round seven out of 11 times," he continued. "You love to have the Star Wars numbers from Peyton and Marvin (Harrison) and Reggie (Wayne). Mostly, you love this (referring to his ring again)."
Interestingly in Monday's loss at San Diego, Manning's former favorite target and Luck's current one, Wayne, reached 1,000 career catches (1,001), becoming the ninth player in NFL history to do so. The Colts -- with Wayne and Marvin Harrison (1,102) -- are the first team in NFL history to have two players with 1,000 receptions and Manning was the fulcrum for that, something Irsay hasn't forgotten but evidently doesn't appreciate.
"To me, in my opinion, they were disappointing and inappropriate," Broncos coach John Fox said on his weekly Sirius XM radio hit when asked about Irsay's comments. "I mean, Peyton would never say anything. He's too classy to do that.
"But (the comments) 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."
With the toothpaste already out of the tube Irsay, perhaps realizing he went too far, has been trying to backtrack ever since, first taking to Twitter to try to fend off any criticism.
"Those expressing negatIvity about the concept of building well rounded teams around great QBs 2 achieve Championships have negative agendas," he tweeted.
"My comments meant if we gave Peyton better SP (Special) Teams n (and) Def (defense), we would have won more than 1 Sup/Bowl (Super Bowl), instead of asking Peyton 2do (to do) too much," another Tweet read.
Too little, too late.
The damage has already been done and it's clear Irsay has only made things tougher on his team even if Manning won't bite at the controversy, at least publicly.
"I've learned that in life you need to be at peace with other people's decisions that affect you that you have no control over," Manning said. "That's good advice I've had over the years and it's certainly served me well in this particular scenario."
You get the distinct feeling Manning is done learning and will be turning the tables on Sunday in order to do a little teaching.
How about never spit in the wind, don't poke the bear and stop tugging on Superman's cape?
And if we stick with the "Star Wars" theme, it's likely Irsay's big mouth just turned the Colts into Alderaan as the Death Star approaches.
10/18 13:04:50 ET
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