On Tuesday, I talked with Broncos coach John Fox, as I do every Tuesday on the radio. While 99 percent of our conversations are of the X's & O's variety -- I rarely dig for dirt out of respect for a coach's job -- I just had to ask Fox what he thought of Jim Irsay's comments about Peyton Manning.
By now, you all know by now Fox called those comments a "cheap shot," among other things. Not only do I agree with Fox, but Irsay's comments bothered me even more when I thought about what Manning did for the Colts and his place in NFL history.
Irsay claims he needed to change the model of how the Colts were built by jettisoning Manning, which is an insult to former GM Bill Polian and misguided at best. Polian built a winning team and Irsay should be smart enough to recognize that -- but he's not. As for Irsay's take that Manning puts up "Star Wars" numbers, but isn't successful enough in the postseason season makes Irsay sound like a spoiled brat who has no idea what winning takes. I wonder what other owners, who may be still looking for their first shot at a Super Bowl, might think of Irsay's commentary.
It's a shame Irsay has been blessed with two outstanding quarterbacks in a row, because it has nothing to do with his vision or development of the team. Wait until the Colts' owner has to pay Andrew Luck the going rate for quarterbacks in a few years. Luck looks like a great one but has a long way to go before he plays in 20 postseason games in search of Jim Irsay's second Super Bowl ring. In the meantime, Luck will consume as much or more than Manning did of the club's salary cap.
Peyton Manning went to 11 postseasons for the Colts and had a 9-11 record. How many QBs have played in 20 postseason games? I only found four with more than Manning: Tom Brady (24), Brett Favre (24) Joe Montana (23) and John Elway (22). Considering three of them are retired, Manning easily could move in to second place in appearances in this postseason. Oh, that's right, Mr. Irsay, it's the ring or nothing else!
There are HOF quarterbacks who haven't played in more postseason games, like Steve Young (20), Roger Staubach (19), Terry Bradshaw (19) and Troy Aikman (16), all of whom are recognized as great. None has thrown more postseason TD passes than Manning. I guess that's what Irsay means by "Star Wars" numbers.
Or maybe it bothers him that Manning still plays at a high level and won't just go away. Drafting Andrew Luck was the right move for the Colts for the long term, but for Irsay to twist history about Peyton Manning's contributions, and indirectly at those of Bill Polian, is a shame.
While we're at it, here are some more HOF QBs and their postseason records: Warren Moon (3-7), Jim Kelly (9-8), Dan Marino (8-10), Dan Fouts (3-4), Fran Tarkenton (6-5), Joe Namath (2-1) and Len Dawson (5-3). I guess Mr. Irsay thinks none of them wouldn't fit his model for a franchise QB, either.
Finally, Irsay's tweet charging that those who reacted to his comments have a negative agenda is another example of how out of touch the guy really is with building a football team. Irsay should spend a year in Cleveland or Oakland to know how lucky he has been.
Well, Polian could have taken Ryan Leaf instead of Manning at No. 1 in the 1998 NFL Draft, but Polian was smarter than that. If that's not enough, had Manning not missed the 2011 season, Andrew Luck wasn't going to fall into the Colts' lap.
I feel bad for GM Ryan Grigson and coach Chuck Pagano. Those guys are trying to build a football team and get ready for the Broncos this Sunday, to which all this just became a distraction. And they also found out that 20 postseason games and a Super Bowl ring in 11 seasons isn't good enough.