Very rarely does Colts owner Jim Irsay comment negatively about a player. If you have get the chance to meet Jim (I've met him several times and many different functions), you will find him to be one of the more positive minded people you'll ever meet. He always talks about possibility, not negativity. And he is also very mindful of how his presence affects the authority of the people who work for him. Even recently, with the Howard Mudd and Tom Moore status, Jim Irsay left the decision to bring back Moore and Mudd to Jim Caldwell, the head coach.
Irsay said Moore, 70, and Mudd, 67, told him they still have the desire to coach at least one more year. Caldwell has wanted them to return.
"This was Jim Caldwell's call ultimately,'' Irsay said. "Bill (Polian, team president) and I are there to support the head coach, and we do. I asked Jim what he wanted, and he wanted to see these guys come back and be part of things. Everything is good.''
This is how real owners run their team. They allow football people to make football decisions. This is why the Colts are relevant while the Cowboys and their moron owner aren't (zero playoff wins in 15 years).
So, when the always positive, always upbeat Jim Irsay makes a comment about a player's desire and his ability to focus on the task at hand, people perk up and take notice. Irsay did just that the other day, commenting on third year OT Tony Ugoh. From John Oehser:
Irsay also said specified the need for LT Tony Ugoh to be "more consistent:"
We gave up a lot for him to play left tackle. He’s got to be focused. He’s got to be ready to go.’
The Colts traded a first-round selection in the 2008 NFL Draft for the right to select Ugoh in the second round in 2007.
On the surface, that does not look like that big of a statement. But, if you know Jim Irsay, when he starts to publicly question your focus, your consistency, and your ability to be ready to play football games, that is a not-to-thinly-veiled suggestion that this is a make or break year for Tony Ugoh.
Ugoh must start and play all 16 games this season, and play them well, or he will not be on this team next year. It is literally that simple.
And before the excuse brigade starts commenting: Yes, the comments are indeed calling out Tony Ugoh. Just as Peyton Manning called out Bill Polian a few weeks ago (yes, he did; stop using the stupid excuse that the press overblew the story; Peyton knew exactly what he was doing), Jim Irsay is using the press to call out Tony Ugoh so that a point can be enforced. People like Irsay have worked with the press for a long time, and they know exactly what to say and how to say it in order to create a desired affect.
I personally don't think Irsay is insinuating Ugoh is a bad football player, far from it. My interp reads that Irsay sees what many of us see: A talented player who could be a top 5 LT but for some reason, has not been able to jump to the next level. 2009 is his last season to do so, or he will be kicked to the curb.