The game between the Denver Broncos and Indianapolis Colts this Sunday all ready had more storylines than a Stephen King novel, but leave it to Colts owner Jim Irsay to spice things up a little more. For those of you who missed it; Irsay said,
“(Tom) Brady never had consistent numbers, but he has three of these,” Irsay told USA TODAY Sports’ Jarrett Bell, showing off his 2006 Super Bowl ring. “Pittsburgh had two, the Giants had two, Baltimore had two and we had one. That leaves you frustrated.
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 (the ring).”
Now is that a shot at Manning or more of an admission that the Colts did not do enough to help Manning? You can answer that question for yourself and I will certainly offer my opinion shortly but make no mistake, Broncos’ head coach John Fox viewed it as a shot and fired back at Irsay in defense of his quarterback. Fox told Sirus NFL Radio on Tuesday that he believes Rise’s comments were out of line.
“To me, in my opinion, they were disappointing and inappropriate,” Fox said. “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 are a lot of people that don’t have one.”
Keep in mind that Fox is the king of talking to the media without saying a word so when he says something like this, it’s no small thing. Again everyone is going to have their own take on all of this; some believe it is a big deal and others believe it is much ado about nothing.
The truth, as with most things, probably falls somewhere in the middle. I do think Irsay believes what he said and I also think he was taking a direct shot at Manning despite his attempt to back pedal on Wednesday. However there’s also little doubt in my mind that Irsay is trying to get in his former quarterback’s head in advance of Sunday night’s game, with the hope of distracting him. Will it work?
Time will tell but I think Irsay did his own team a disservice here; one of the possible advantages the Colts may have had would have been if Manning was overcome by the emotion of returning to Indianapolis as a visitor. No matter what Manning might say, that has to have an effect on him but I’m not sure it does now.
There is some belief and I share in this belief that Irsay’s comments drew the ire of Manning and that led to the comments by Fox. Therefore any hope the Colts had of distracting him with a pregame ceremony are long gone; Manning is always driven to win but that drive is likely to be in overdrive on Sunday night.
In the end, the better team is going to win on Sunday and the better team is the Broncos. The Colts best chance was to treat Manning as the returning hero and hope the emotion of that would somehow distract him; Irsay has taken that chance away and now the Colts must pay.
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