I tried to avoid this, but in a week when a game and Peyton Manning’s return to Indianapolis should be the primary focus, some comments from Jim Irsay have grown into nearly a human form, warping the minds of all who dare cross their path.
As I’ve written before and surely will again many times, the beauty of the NFL season is the structure that centers our attention on one glorious marathon day. On Sunday we get to consume 12 or so hours of football if we choose, and the games — the outcomes, the strategy, and later in the season, the playoff ramifications — are the focus. The downside is (with the exception of a few hours Monday and Thursday night) what the hell are we supposed to do with the rest of the week?
We discuss, dissect, and carve up the juiciest news, the stuff that’s so juice-filled it spits crap into your eye. This is a fine and expected practice to a point, and although around here we often turn to fantasy football, the thirst for NFL conversion in general is what’s created the need for this Internet space and so many others.
Fine, but a problem arises: when there’s so much conversation, there’s also far more opportunity for the leading news item to quickly become splintered, and for one’s own beliefs to be placed upon the comments of a prominent figure. That’s largely what’s happened this week following Jim Irsay’s USA Today interview.
Unless you live under a pretty hard object, you’re aware of what he said by now in an interview that looked back on Manning’s Indy tenure. But to review…
“We’ve changed our model a little bit, because we wanted more than one of these,” Irsay says, flicking up his right hand to show his Super Bowl XLI championship ring.
“(Tom) Brady never had consistent numbers, but he has three of these,” Irsay adds. “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 this [points to ring again].”
What’s mostly happened since those comments is that what you believed to be true about the Manning era Colts was supported by that quote, but only part of it. If you believe Manning is a playoff choker, then you focused on the last part, even though in it Irsay also references Harrison and Wayne. But if you believe Manning’s offense was continually supported by an inept defense that made winning multiple championships difficult, your eye has turned primarily to the first part, and Irsay’s discussion of changing a team model. To most, perception is still reality.
Irsay broke from his usual habit of tweeting out song lyrics to say his intention was the latter.
Prelude 2 what I was talking about-ORGANIZATIONAL Model n Team building/discussed with J Bell; we committed 70% of cap on Offense n some yrs
— Jim Irsay (@JimIrsay) October 16, 2013
If you look at Manning’s last five years in Indy and Polian’s last five drafts in Indy, it’s pretty clear who Irsay was talking about.
— SI_DougFarrar (@SI_DougFarrar) October 16, 2013
Obviously, the best course of action during a week when Manning is to be celebrated in Indianapolis would have been to say little, or at least nothing that could have possibly been confused, misinterpreted, or used by the media or public to apply a specific meaning.
But that’s not Irsay’s style, and it never has been, and never will be. More importantly, those in the media — most prominently, Mike Florio — who have repeatedly chastised Irsay for refusing to say nothing or at least little are ignoring the root of their existence. The Florios, Pat Kirwans, (big cringe) Skip Baylesses, and to some extent Sean Tomlinsons live for this. Whatever makes you talk, is what makes us talk and write, a cycle which continues to infinity and beyond. This is the relationship we’ve all entered, for better or worse.
Then when the reactions begin — first from John Fox, and now from Bill Polian, the former general manager responsible for an apparently wayward team construction model — the juice-level brims, biases are hardened, and there are more opportunities to say “OOOHHH SHOTS FIRED!”.
Meanwhile, this whole Manning/Irsay thing is turning into a giant third-grade game of telephone.
— Albert Breer (@AlbertBreer) October 16, 2013
What we’re now left with then is a story rooted in ambiguous comments in which the listener/reader can choose their own adventure, and their own ending. Then, what we’re really left with is the perfect NFL week between Sundays.
More notes, stray thoughts, and other such randomness
Alfred Morris is a baller and a shot caller in his refurbish Mazda
Alfred Morris is still on his rookie contract, which means by NFL and crazy stupid good athlete standards, he’s much less filthy rich than his peers. Regardless, by the end of this year he’ll be halfway through a contract that will pay him $2.2 million, and if he keeps producing at this rate (three touchdowns through five games and an average of 5.2 yards per carry) he’ll be getting a raise pretty soon.
Yet still, he’s a case study for how much a connection with a vehicle can reach to the inner man. Morris keeps chugging with his 1991 Mazda 626, which — by scale of salary — is sort of like any of us normal folk driving around in one of those shaggin’ wagon deals.
Morris took his sweet ride (affectionately nicknamed “Bentley”) in to a local Washington dealer to be refurbished, and by that we mean totally reconstructed. The pictures (scroll through them at your leisure courtesy of the Washington Post) are enough to make a grown man cry. But the end product was a blissful reunion, complete with a mini media spectacle.
RG3 running more? Oh, yes please
Sticking with them Redskins, it seems we may see much more of the running, scrambling, and creating Robert Griffin III soon.
As he’s gone through his own personal training camp over Washington’s first five games, Griffin has often been his usual mobile self only when absolutely necessary. That led to only 72 rushing yards over the first four weeks, which was drastically lower than his rushing total at the quarter mark of last season (234 yards). But in a Week 5 loss to Dallas Griffin topped that mark in one game, rushing for 77 yards.
Head coach Mike Shanahan gently hinted that he wouldn’t mind seeing some more running and generally Griffin-like activity, saying that his quarterback has to be himself since “Robert is Robert“. Go ahead and nod your head in approval, because last year Griffin tallied 128.2 fantasy points from his rushing yardage and touchdowns alone.
No sex says Rex?
The fact there’s a head coach in the NFL who can say something to his players that remotely sounds like “DON’T HAVE SEX FOR A WEEK OR YOU’RE CUT DAMMIT” is endlessly amusing. The confusion is even better.
But I’m getting a little ahead of myself here, which happens with Rex Ryan. Here’s the deal: Ryan gave a speech — and I’m using the loosest possible definition of the word – to his players Wednesday, the first day of practice prior to another game against the hate division rival Patriots. Since he’s Rex Ryan and he’s not afraid to reference a desire for snacks in his moving pep talks, Ryan maybe jokingly or maybe/probably not said his players should ensure maximum rest by not doing anything with their wives and girlfriends this week.
Or at least that’s what some players interpreted. Defensive tackle Sheldon Richardson, for one, told the New York Post that he believes Ryan shunned all dancing with no pants. Meanwhile, newly acquired wide receiver Josh Cribbs had a more literal interpretation:
“He was like … rest your legs, you go home, don’t do nothing for your wife. Say baby, next week. You’ll take out the trash next week. I’ll take the kids to practice next week but I’ve got to rest for this game. I’m going to tell him to put it on paper so when I give it to my wife, I can be like, ‘Rex said that I don’t got to take out the trash.’ So he might get a call.”
Wholly unnecessary reminder: Rex Ryan did this…