Irsay’s comments were not blasting Manning

Yesterday, Indianapolis Colts owner Jim Irsay made headlines by suggesting that he has no regrets about letting go of future first ballot Hall of Fame quarterback Peyton Manning.  Manning was coming off neck surgery and the Colts held the number one pick in the 2012 NFL Draft.  Stanford’s Andrew Luck was considered a lock number one pick.

They chose Luck.  Manning resides now in Denver, where he’s led the Broncos to a scintillating start.  The two teams play Sunday in Indianapolis.

Irsay’s comments reached the internet and immediately the defenses for Manning came up.  Irsay was called an idiot by Twitter users, former Colts coach Tony Dungy said Irsay was “making it personal,” and Broncos head coach John Fox called it a “cheap shot.”

Now, I’m not a Manning apologist or defender.  Actually, I think of myself as a Manning realist.  He’s one of the best quarterbacks I’ve ever watched play football.  But I don’t think what Irsay said was inaccurate, or even disparaging.  It was the truth.


Manning, now, in Denver.

Manning won one Super Bowl with Indianapolis.

Manning won one Super Bowl with Indianapolis.

Noting that the Colts wanted to Luck to help them win Super Bowl titles, Irsay said, “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.”

At the last comment, he pointed to his Super Bowl ring.

He compared Manning’s one ring to the three rings held by Patriots quarterback Tom Brady, and the two owned by Pittsburgh’s Ben Roethlisberger and New York’s Eli Manning.  Irsay was comparing Manning to his contemporaries.  And he was right.  As an owner, your goal is championships, not passing titles and astronomical statistics.  Was Irsay wrong?

Apparently.  How dare anyone say a person act as ungratefully as Irsay after what Manning has done for him and the sport of football!  So not only are we not allowed to say anything bad about Manning.  We’re not even allowed to suggest things that aren’t glowing with praise.

Evidently, it’s out of order to say anything that can be construed as negative against Manning.  As a fan, this is frustrating.  The guy is a future Hall of Famer, and one of the classiest, most respected players in the history of the game.  But he has flaws.  Irsay just pointed out his main flaw: that he hasn’t been a successful playoff QB.

Irsay wasn’t blasting Manning like Twitter, the Manning-friendly media, Fox and Dungy claimed.  He was telling the USA Today, during just one of the multiple press events he’ll be a part of before their former franchise player returns, that he’s happy with his current quarterback because he wants to win another Super Bowl.

The problem is that the quotes chosen to be used by the Manning supporters are taken out of context (even if accurate).  We chose the wrong quotes to focus on.

“What’s happened is what Peyton and I hoped would happen.  The desire was for him to get well and get to a team that has a chance to win another Super Bowl before his career ended.  And our desire was to be able to transition to Andrew.  To be so good so soon is stunning.”

That’s not a cheap shot.  None of these were cheap shots.  They weren’t personal either.  We’re acting like the sensitive 5th grader when someone makes a “mom joke.”

Some quick research for my brother:

Yesterday, after all of this came out, my younger brother asked me to settle, once and for all, who was the better quarterback, Manning or Brady.  That’s impossible.  That’s be like debating the best president or best band.  There’s no formula for best quarterback of all time.  The game evolves too quickly, there are too many variables.

That being said, my hypothesis was that Manning would have better stats, Brady would have “won” more.  I was (mostly) right.  The table is below, but before that, I must admit the one main variable: Bill Belichick.  One of the greatest coaches of all time.

(Though it does make me laugh that in one breath, there are legions of people who still call Belichick a cheater; However, when defending Manning in this debate, they mention Belichick the “genius.”)

Manning Brady adv.
Record: 160-70 141-40 Brady
Playoff record: 9-10 17-7 Brady
First round exits: 7 2 Brady
Game Winning Drives (playoffs): 1 4 Brady
TD’s: 458 342 Manning
INT’s: 211 127 Brady
Yards: 61,666 46,286 Manning
QBR: 96.7% 96.0% Manning
Top running back: Edgerrin James (99-05); 9226 yards/64 TD’s Corey Dillon (04-06); 3180 yards/37 TD’s Push



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