Ignorance is bliss: Why Yahoo!'s Chris Chase and ESPN's Colts documentary are full of it

We bloggers at SB Nation do a lot of collaborative stuff with the writers at Yahoo!, in particular their NFL blog titled Shutdown Corner. While I've only had some limited interaction with the head writer at Shutdown (a fellow named MJD), I've never met and discussed anything with sometime Yahoo! blogger Chris Chase, and that's probably a good thing.

The guy sounds like a serious douche.

Now, before I move forward and systematically obliterate one of Chris Chase's recent articles for Shutdown Corner (a hate-filled, regurgitation of hypocritical nonsense that bashes Colts owner Jim Irsay for really no reason whatsoever) let me provide a little set-up.

Chris recently watched the well-produced but painfully one-sided and factually flawed ESPN documentary titled The Band That Wouldn't Die, by Baltimore naive Barry Levinson (director of Rainman, Diner, and several other films that are over a billion years old) about Baltimore Colts fans and how the "suffered" after Robert Irsay had the audacity to take the team he bought with his own hard-earned money and move it to a city where fans actually showed up and watched the games (unlike the last few seasons in Baltimore). Apparently, five minutes after watching this gigantic orgasm for the people of Baltimore, Chris thought it prudent to take a few shots at Robert Irsay's son, Jim.

Why did Chris choose to bash Jim Irsay?

Well, Jim Irsay, widely regarded by many as one of the better and classier NFL owners in today's game, just happened to be in the news this week around the time this ESPN documentary hit the tubewaves. When recently asked about whether it was good for the league to have conservative talk radio host Rush Limbaugh own an NFL franchise, Jimmy Irsay answered honestly: No. Jimmy's opinion was shared by several NFL players (many of whom happen to be black) who believe Limbaugh's consistently divisive comments on radio and TV about race and race relations paint him as someone not welcome in a league where a majority or the players and several of the coaches are African American.

Irsay's comments about Limbaugh were certainly nothing odd or out of the blue, but they seemed (on the surface) to hold weight. Limbaugh was later dumped a few days after they were made from the ownership group looking to buy the Rams. But, for some reason, Irsay's words seemed to really piss Yahoo!'s Chris Chase right the f*ck off.

Unfortunately for Chris, rather than articulate a well-thought counter to Irsay's opinion about Rush Limbaugh, he decided to lose his mind and write an assinnie article that, for whatever reason, pins the "sins" of Jimmy's father, Robert Irsay, on Jimmy himself. Chris suggests that because Robert Irsay lied to the people of Baltimore about moving "their" Colts to Indianapolis, this means that Jimmy Irsay should just STFU when it comes to making statements about controversial figures, like Rush Limbaugh, looking to buy NFL teams.

Yep, that argument is indeed as dumb as it looks and sounds.

Here's what Chris wrote:

Literally five minutes after it ended I read this article on Yahoo! Sports about how Indianapolis Colts owner Jim Irsay had come out against Rush Limbaugh's bid to join a group interested in purchasing the St. Louis Rams. The irony was delightful. Here's a guy who was part of perhaps the most contemptible ownership moment in recent NFL history -- lying to the city of Baltimore for months before taking the team, without notice, to the Midwest -- and he's going to lecture others on ethics and comportment? It was Irsay's father, Robert, who was the true villain in the story and is still a reviled man in Baltimore. But Jim, his son, also played a large role in the move.

Chris then attempts to reinforce his comments by saying the opinions expressed in them are shared by none other than Peter Schmuck (yes, that is indeed his real name), a writer at the Baltimore Sun. Since Chris is such a fan of irony, I leave it to you (our always informed readers) to sit back and chuckle at a Yahoo! writer who thinks the support of a Schmuck from Baltimore provides validation for his opinions about the Irsay family.

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 This is Peter Schmuck, who very much looks the part

 

What Chris' article demonstrates is a classic example of why one should never, EVER write an opinion piece after watching anything on ESPN, especially their original programming. Levinson's documentary was very flawed (much like ESPN's sports reporting overall) and did not present the full and complete picture as to why the Colts left Baltimore. It focuses mostly on the Colts Marching Band, and their efforts to keep the tradition of the Colts alive in Baltimore after the team left for Indy. Because of this focus, the piece presents an extremely one-sided point of view created by someone (Levinson) with close ties to Baltimore (he was born and raised there). Perhaps Levinson's time constraint (only 30 minutes) prevented him from showing the other side, but for someone like me (a big fan of documentary filmmaking) that is simply not an acceptable excuse.

For example, Levinson's use of footage showcasing the efforts of Baltimore's then-mayor, William Schaefer, does injustice to what really happened behind the scenes. Footage and interviews paint the mayor almost as a gilted lover, left at the altar by the "back-stabbing" then-colts owner Robert Irsay, a flawed and tortured man with a well documented drinking disorder. The reality is that despite Levinson's efforts to paint William Schaefer as a victim, it was Schaefer and other members in local government that pushed the whole Colts situation to the only natural conclusion it could arrive at: Team re-location. The mayor's office and the city were the one's who passed legislation giving the city of Baltimore the right to seize ownership of Irsay's team via eminent domain if Irsay attempted to move the team, even though it is within every right we Americans hold dear for Irsay to do so.

I mean seriously, you want to push an owner right out the friggin door, go ahead and threaten to use the government to take his team away from him.

The mayor and the city were also responsible for not providing a firm new stadium proposal to Irsay, who had long complained about the crumbling facilities at Memorial Stadium. In a sworn testimony before the US Senate's subcommittee in charge of the Fan Freedom and Community Protection Act, the chairman of the Maryland Stadium Authority, John Moag, Jr., said the following:

"It was the failure of our local (Baltimore) and state elected officials in Maryland to provide the Colts with a firm proposal for a new stadium that led Mr. Irsay to accept an offer from Indianapolis to play in a new dome in that city."

In order to avoid a long series of legal battles, which Irsay would have won anyway because, once again, he owns the team and not the citizens of Baltimore despite silly legislation to make it so, Robert Irsay packed up his things one night and left for Indy.

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Former Baltimore mayor William Schaefer, striking a pose

 

The next day, in order to save his political ass because he failed to stop the Colts from leaving Baltimore, Schaefer went on TV and played dumb. He talked about how he was betrayed. How he had tried everything to make this work. How he was unaware that the team was moving, despite clear signs that it was going to happen in March 1984. And, per typical Baltimoron fashion, the citizens lapped it up like the suckers they are while demonizing Robert Irsay in order to feel good about themselves.

But as bad as all that was, Chris Chase takes took it one step further in his recent article.

According to Chris, because Jim Irsay is related to Robert (huh?), and because Jim was involved in the moving process due to him working for his father at the time, he is just as guilty. Forget the fact that Jimmy was 25 years old at the time, and forget that he had next to ZERO influence over the final decisions made by Robert, to someone as simple-minded as Chris Chase, that doesn't matter.

Guilty, by association. Guilty of the crime of taking his family's property and moving it. Oh, the horror.

As someone who was raised in Indianapolis, and has a very vivid memory of the day and year the Colts moved there, my opinion is likely skewed in the other direction. While I (and most other) Indianapolis Colts fans have tremendous respect for the old Baltimore Colts players and the great teams they formed, please excuse me if my heart does not bleed for the hypocrite Baltimore Colts fans and their incompetent city leadership back in 1984. I don't fault Robert Irsay for taking a team he owned and moving it to a city with a better stadium, better facilities, and with a more cooperative city government that doesn't threaten to strip his ownership. Football is a business, and cities compete for that business because football stadiums in a cities brings in these little green things we all like to call MONEY! They help local business, create a sense of community, and improves the overall quality of city life.

Indy essentially outbid Baltimore for Robert Irsay's team. It's that simple.

And despite the emotional fluff Barry Levinson splatters all over the screen in his ESPN opinion piece (with soft piano music, old footage, and interviews with people talking about "the glory days"), for the rest of the civilized world, it is very difficult to feel any sympathy for Baltimorians because, eleven years later, they seemed perfectly happy to "steal" the Browns away from Cleveland, rename the team the Ravens, and then CONTINUE TO WHINE about losing the Colts!

Indeed, if you are a Browns fan, Levinson's op-ed likely had you seeing red as it painted former-Browns owner Art Modell as a benevolent, kind caretaker of the Baltimore Colts tradition as well as a savior to Baltimore football by doing (essentially) what Robert Irsay eleven years prior... but only this time, it was to the detriment of city of Cleveland while the beneficiary was the city of Baltimore.

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So, when I see tools like Chris Chase get emotional over stupid, factually incomplete pieces of crap like The Band That Wouldn't Let It Go, Already... er, excuse me, The Band That Wouldn't Die, and then use them to take shots at my team's well-respected owner, who has done nearly everything in his power these past two decades to make peace with these annoying and perpetually whiny fans in Baltimore, I kind of take that as an insult. If my team were the Redskins or the Cowboys, then bashing my team's owner is totally justified. Those owners are boobs, and deserve every bit of bad press they get.

But bashing Jimmy Irsay isn't justified. You pretty much have to be a douchebag of the ninth power to bash that guy by holding him accountable for the decisions made by his father 25 years ago.

Even more pathetic than Chase's original article is the follow-up he made in the article's comment section. After 80-plus comments of readers essentially calling Chase an idiot, he followed up with this gem:

As I made clear in the post, Jim Irsay isn't his father. However, all the books about the move (and the documentary) indicate that Jim played a definite role in the team's move. He didn't give the drunk press conferences or make the final decision to move the team, but he was right there for all of it.
Furthermore, even though Jim Irsay is his own man, he is part of the Irsay family that is still despised in Baltimore. And that was the point of this point. I'm not saying Irsay is a bad guy, nor am I saying Limbaugh is a bad guy. All I'm saying is that I found it ironic the somebody with such a checkered NFL past would vocally come out against another man in such a way.

Well, no Chris. You didn't make it clear Jim Irsay is not his father. Your article pretty much held Jim Irsay just as accountable as his father for the seemingly insidious crime of team re-location. And while people like Chris and his friend named Schmuck may think Jim Irsay has a "checkered NFL past," almost everyone else does not share that opinion. And no offense to Rush Limbaugh fans out there, but as crass and unsettling as the late-Robert Irsay was late in life, he was no where never the controversial figure Limbaugh is today. Maybe in a the black hole of common sense we call "Baltimore" Irsay is just as controversial, but the reality is not all of us live in such an intellectual vacuum. Robert Irsay moved a team. Rush Limbaugh has made comments that many Americans feel paints him as a racist (fairly or not).

If Chris Chase and his Schmuck friend at the Baltimore Sun can't see the difference there, both are complete f*cking morons who are better served bagging my groceries than writing for Yahoo! Sports or the Baltimore Sun, respectively.

It's reasons like these that people bashed the hell out of Chris's article, and that's also why Chris came across and an asshat in his follow-up comment. In the future, Chris should not assume that the rest of the sports world shares his opinions of the Irsay family. Most of us see the whole thing for what it was: An owner moving a team.

All the other sentimental crap is just a fascade people try and throw up in order to attract pity, which is in short supply these days for Baltimore fans and their crusaders in media.

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