Well, maybe Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning's return to Indianapolis on "Sunday Night Football," won't be all hugs and tears after all.
Some of Colts owner Jim Irsay's comments on Manning to USA Today seem to have touched a bit of a nerve. Near the end of the story, Irsay is quoted as saying by getting rid of Manning the Colts "changed their model" because he wanted more championships, something he apparently feels they didn't get enough of with Manning. Indianapolis won just one Super Bowl with Manning, and we'll get to how ridiculous Irsay's comment is, but first, here's Broncos coach John Fox's quotes from SiriusXM NFL Radio shooting back at Irsay:
"I saw the comments [from Irsay] and to be honest with you I thought it was a bit of a cheap shot," Fox said on SiriusXM. "To me, in my opinion, they were disappointing and inappropriate. 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’s a lot of people that don’t have one.”
That's all much more accurate than Irsay thinking that the statistics of the Colts offense somehow held them back from winning more than one Super Bowl. Here's what Irsay said:
"(Tom) Brady never had consistent numbers, but he has three of these (championship rings," Irsay told USA Today. "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 (referring to his Super Bowl ring)."
If Irsay thinks the Colts would have won one Super Bowl or been to the playoffs close to 11 times (or had that great new stadium) without Manning, he has lost his mind. There's one main reason his team is a contender again, and that's because it had the good fortune to get the first pick and land once-in-a-generation quarterback prospect Andrew Luck. The thought that Manning kept the Colts from winning more than one title is flat out wrong. Irsay probably was focused on the thought that the Colts were better off moving on from Manning because he took up a lot of their salary-cap and they wanted a more balanced roster, because he couldn't possibly have meant what his quotes appear to be saying. Irsay knows better. And it's not like the Colts have reinvented football the last couple years without Manning; they just happened to fall into another great quarterback.
But if nothing else, it adds a little more tension to Manning's return to Indianapolis.
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- Jim Irsay