The Audacity Of Jimmy Irsay …..

October 15, 2009 |

On Tuesday night, I looked forward to an evening of lounging in my LAZY-BOY, while fulfilling the chair’s design and name. I had absolutely no plans beyond reading some sports news and watching Barry Levinson’s “The Band That Wouldn’t Die,” on ESPN.

But, fate certainly intervened …..

Lucky me ….. I was treated to a couple doses of Indianapolis Colts owner, Jimmy Irsay, in the form of his contribution to Levinson’s documentary, as well as an internet article regarding some comments the former Baltimore businessman made concerning Rush Limbaugh’s prospective bid to purchase a minority stake of the St. Louis Rams.

My first Irsay encounter of the evening was actually in stumbling across the article by Tom Curran, on

According to the article, Jimmy Irsay has publicly disclosed that he would oppose Rush Limbaugh’s attempt to become part of a group that purchases the St. Louis Rams. Let me be very clear – this blog concerns Jimmy Irsay – and not Rush Limbaugh, nor his controversial views.

In the article, Irsay referenced Limbaugh’s divisiveness. He further echoed his beliefs regarding the DAMAGE done by words. Really, Jim? Are you sure you absolutely believe this?

Better yet, do you live by it?

The following paragraph is a direct quote from Jimmy Irsay, as related by Curran …..

“I come from a different era where Marvin Gaye and John Lennon were speaking about [certain things] and we’ve been doing a slow crawl to some of the things they talked about. We don’t need to go the other way,” Irsay added. “We can’t go the other way where there isn’t forgiveness and understanding but we gotta watch our words in this world and our thoughts because they can do damage.”


I absolute agree with Mr. Irsay’s philosophy. He’s right.

However, this is not how Jimmy Irsay has lived his life. And, it certainly is not how his father lived his life. Words are one thing – actions are much more significant. The Irsays have accomplished the feat of hurting an entire city of people with both !!!!

Less than hour later, I watched Jimmy Irsay’s interview on the Baltimore Colts Marching Band program. I watched it, again. And, again. And, again. And, again.

It took me five times, because I wanted to be absolutely certain about my suspicions. And, I am …..

In fact, they’re no longer suspicions.

Jimmy Irsay is either a hypocrite or he’s a conflicted man, who really hasn’t processed the significance of what he and his dad did to the people of Baltimore. And, there is hardly any comparison to what Rush Limbaugh has done, through his mere words.

Limbaugh’s transgressions are miniscule in proportion to the Irsays’.

While hurtful and offending to some people, Rush Limbaugh is really just an entertainer. He’s a persona – a character. He doesn’t govern or serve. He merely comes on the radio and inspires people to drink his brand of kool-aid. Nothing more, nothing less …..

Jim and Bob Irsay have done far worse. Heck, it’s not even close.

At about 8:03pm, on Tuesday, I watched the opening moments of Barry Levinson’s program as Jimmy Irsay confirmed in his own words that he knew the move to Indianapolis was coming – before it happened.

In fact, he further confirmed a more sinful action, on his part. Later in the program, Irsay admitted that he traveled to Indianapolis, at his father’s direction, to participate in brokering the deal.

In defending his father’s honor, Jimmy Irsay described him as having a “big, soft heart inside,” but that it had been taken away by the personal tragedies of losing two of his children, and alcoholism.

Personally, I think Jimmy Irsay revealed a very personal and private component of his family’s history that could have been easily suppressed. While these factors (deaths, substance abuse) were suspected, it was still a cooperative gesture for him to confirm their relevance, for the program.

I was impressed and moved by the disclosure.

However, in an ironic twist, this revelation occurred at about the same time (of the program) his father lied to the people of Baltimore, during a press conference, at BWI Airport. He denied ever going to Phoenix. It was later learned that he had been in Phoenix, negotiating a move, just days earlier.

In fact, Phoenix announced that it was withdrawing from consideration after Indianapolis came into the mix …..

The man lied to the people who supported the football team. He lied to their faces.

He snuck out of town – they all snuck out of town, like burglars, on a snowy morning, in late March, 1984.

Heck, you know the story.

You’ve heard it hundreds of times.

What’s changed now?

Well, thanks to the excellent work of Barry Levinson, I finally heard and saw Jimmy Irsay recount his participation in “the move.” His hands are filthy dirty with the grime of a slimy operation …..

I also watched his father lie, curse and betray an entire collective community that loved the football team he called “his own.” It was a team that existed before the Irsay’s got into football.

It’s a football team that will exist after the Irsays are out of football.

Is there any chance Jimmy Irsay will ever see this blog? Nah …..

But, think about it ….. could he see it? Would he even care?

In reading his comments about Rush Limbaugh, my naïve streak says Jimmy Irsay might come to his senses. Perhaps, he really does subscribe to the views of John Lennon. Would Lennon betray and scorn so many innocent people?

Realistic experience tells me Jimmy Irsay is galvanized to this city and it’s residents’ trauma, which is probably viewed as nothing more than hard feelings.

We have a new team, and I’m grateful to Art Modell and his family for taking a chance on Baltimore. It was a great decision. You can bet Wayne Weaver wishes he would’ve been awarded a team here, as opposed to Jacksonville.

On Tuesday, after reading Jimmy Irsay’s comments on Rush Limbaugh, I mumbled to myself, “how dare you” …..

Yet, after watching his father’s antics on the Colts Marching Band program, I simply concluded a very sad reality – the NFL has had far worse owners than the prospective Rush Limbaugh.

I think it’s fair to say Jimmy and Bob Irsay would make that list.

They did a lot of damage in this city. To an extent, it can be repaired. Bob Irsay cannot make amends. Jimmy still can.

After Tuesday’s show, the world knows Jimmy Irsay’s hands were far from clean in the entire “Baltimore to Indy” relocation. He was part of the conspiracy. Heck, he was an integral part of lying to and misleading a city – and sneaking the goods to a new home.

Yet, he wants to stand in judgement of Rush Limbaugh, who’s just a bigmouth divider? Are you kidding me, Jim?

Have you ever considered approaching the people of this city and burying the hard feelings? We don’t want your football team. But, that doesn’t mean we don’t want or deserve some contrition.

It would be the first step in restoring the integrity you’ll sorely need when deciding the plight of Rush Limbaugh and NFL hopes. Look at it this way, I’m just a slapdick talk show host, in Baltimore – and I’m calling you out.

Have you imagined what Rush Limbaugh will do, now that he is officially eliminated from the process? He’s taken down much bigger men than you – by exposing their pasts, and when it comes to the hypocrisy you’re displaying.

The sad truth is Bob and Jimmy Irsay never really BELIEVED in Baltimore. But, Jimmy should try …..

We might just surprise him.

You’re right, Jim. Words can do damage, but actions hurt far worse.

Isn’t it time to finally bury the past? You can be a bigger man than your dad. Family tragedies and alcoholism were his excuse. What is yours?

Talk to Steve Bisciotti – ask him for a couple minutes on the JumboTron, on November 22nd. Would you like a chance to put this in the past – on a positive note?

From a personal perspective, I’m not seeking an “apology” from Jim Irsay. I think apologies and demands for such are highly overrated. However, I do value someone’s endeavor to right a wrong, or reach out for some closure.

I don’t see how Jimmy Irsay can really wash his hands of the messy, sordid circumstances of 25 years ago, until he looks us in the eye. The sobering truth is Baltimore’s graveyards are full of people who died without some closure and resolution to the Colts’ departure.

When an NFL owner speaks out about issues of integrity and credibility, I want to trust them. I want to trust and believe Jim Irsay. But, he has some unfinished business to complete, before I can deem his future comments as valued.

I’s just the way I see it …..