NEW ORLEANS, LA - MARCH 21: Indianapolis Colts NFL team owner Jim Irsay address the media at the Roosevelt Hotelon March 21, 2011 in New Orleans, Louisiana. Despite a NFL owners imposed lockout in effect since March 12, the league is conducting it's annual owners meeting in New Orleans. (Photo by Sean Gardner/Getty Images)
We've never been big fans of Tony Kornheiser around here.
His stint on Monday Night Football several years ago was a disaster, the equivalent of putting Ambush Bug on the Justice League (for you beautiful comic book people out there). While not quite Jay Mariotti, Kornheiser does have a knack for uttering generic, misinformed opinions about subjects he knows very little about.
Like football, for instance.
One of the more amazing truths I've learned since I started writing for a football blog five years ago is that for many of these 'veteran journalists' that have been covering sports for decades (people like Kornheiser and, to some extent, Peter King), it's truly amazing just how ignorant they are about how sports are played. The only other thing more stunning is how ridiculous and misinformed former players are when it comes to analyzing their sport. Watch Tedy Bruschi flapping his gums on ESPN for proof of this, or any old segment involving Sean Salisbury or Tiki Barber.
That said, our old buddy Tony Kornheiser took his ignorance about football to a new low yesterday when he decided to insult Colts owner Jim Irsay.
Kornheiser seemed to take issue with Irsay saying (just a few days ago) that he and NFLPA* rep and Colts player Jeff Saturday could negotiate a new CBA together in one day using 'cocktail napkins.' Irsay's point was the all the nastiness and bitterness between the owners and players could be resolved if they just got together, chatted casually, played some golf, and moved on past all their hang-ups.
Again, Kornheiser didn't like this (via Mike Florio at PFT):
"What inflames this is a complete bozo, like Jimmy Irsay," Kornheiser said. "Jimmy Irsay, who inherited his team. Worked very hard in the American way. He was in what Dan Jenkins used to call ‘The son business.’ He inherits a team, and now he says, ‘Jeff Saturday and I could hang out, we could go clubbing, we could work this out on a napkin at Ralph’s Boathouse.’"
It's actually Rick’s Cafe Boatyard near Eagle Creek Reservoir, but whatever. Screwing up the name of the restaurant wasn't what sent Jim Irsay into a
furry fury (as in 'a form of anger,' not a form of hair) on Twitter, responding to Kornheiser's senseless and bitter comments with some venom of his own.
Kornheiser went on to say that Irsay doesn't have the respect of the other owners while Patriots owner Robert Kraft does (from PFT):
"Jimmy Irsay, the rest of the owners wouldn’t trust Jimmy Irsay to call a cab for them," Kornheiser said. "Just so we understand that. They would not. Now, when the Krafts of the world, Kraft says, ‘This is hurting us with fans,’ he’s a reasonable guy. They would trust Kraft. There’s four or five owners that the other owners would trust to get involved in this."
Clearly, Kornheiser is trying to leverage the Pats v. Colts rivalry in his near-senseless rant against Irsay. The Kraft Family dislikes Irsay and Colts president Bill Polian intensely, and the feeling is mutual. None of this is any big secret to those who know. But, the comments that were insulting to Irsay were unnecessary... unless, of course, Kornheiser is carrying water for owners who did not take kindly to Irsay suggesting that all that's needed to fix this lockout is 'good faith.'
Many owners (a few of them likely named 'Jerry') aren't interested in good faith. They want to break the union, no matter the cost.
Thus, after Tony Kornheiser called Jim Irsay a 'complete bozo,' a 'chump,' and someone who does not have the trust of his fellow owners, Jim Irsay took to Twitter and did a Bill Tobin-Mel Kiper Jr. number on Tony K. In fact, he even referenced Ole Bill Tobin in the beatdown:
T.Kornheiser is a mean-spirited chump! When he can win 115 games n a decade,build a top 3 stadium,win n host a Super Bowl,then he can chirp!
I think he used 2 b Bill Tobin's mailman...but that would b an insult 2 mail men! I just droppin' knowledge...
Kornheiser also dedicated some of his precious time yesterday also to taking shots at Washington Post columnist Sally Jenkins, whose article yesterday stated [emphasis mine]:
NFL owners are fast wearing out the public goodwill and have no one to blame but themselves. Between extortionist stadium deals and the squeeze for every dime from fans at the ticket booth and concessions, owners have made it a lot easier to believe the players have a point when they say they didn’t provoke this fight.
After all, the owners interrupted 20 years of labor peace by tearing up the agreement they made with the players in 2006, claiming the terms were too generous — even though they agreed to those terms with just two dissenting votes. The owners complained they weren’t getting a big enough slice of a $9 billion revenue bonanza. The owners dishonestly negotiated TV contracts, accepting below-market deals in order to give less money to players, so as to squeeze them even harder.
But lately there are signs that not all owners are absolutely united in the squeeze strategy. On Monday, Indianapolis Colts owner Jim Irsay seemed to break from the pack with a Twitter message that suggested if it was up to him, he would do a deal today with Colts center Jeff Saturday, who is a representative for the players. "Jeff Saturday and I could get this thing done, on cocktail napkins, over a long lunch at Rick’s Boatyard . . . it’s not that hard!" he wrote.
Jenkins then went on to reference Robert Kraft as another owner (along with Irsay) who might not be 'all in' on this 'squeeze strategy' that other owners (ahem, named Jerry) have put into practice.
Seriously? THIS is what Tony Kornheiser is all pissed off about?
Predictably, Kornheiser is getting substantial backlash from people, much the same way he got heat for stupidly attacking his colleague at ESPN, Hannah Storm, for her choice of wardrobe. That stunt got Kornheiser suspended from ESPN for a time.
Obviously, Kornheiser's comments were silly and make him look even more like the old, wrinkly toad we know him to be. While it is enjoyable to see Jim Irsay stand up to someone who is, quite frankly, carrying water for other owners who probably did not care for Irsay's 'cocktail napkin' comments, the reality here is this lockout goes far deeper, and more personal, than people are willing to admit. This isn't a simple case of the 'nasty media' taking shots at the Colts.
Please Colts fans, don't be naive by buying into that line of thinking.
In my humble opinion, someone asked Kornheiser to mouth off on this the way he did. Based on his words, and his choice of language, I believe certain owners were not pleased with Jim Irsay's break from the script. Maybe one of them was Redskins owner and general nitwit Daniel Snyder, a man Tony Kornheiser works for.
As we at Stampede Blue have said from the beginning, if normal, rational people with the game's best interests in mind were at the negotiating table bargaining on behalf of the owners, we'd have a CBA by now. But, as Sally Jenkins makes clear in her Post article, this isn't about making football better.
This is about extorting and squeezing more money out of players and fans. Pure and simple.
As a Colts fan, it makes me feel better that, on the surface, Jim Irsay is not down with what some of his fellow owners are doing. Jim Irsay is probably THE biggest reason I'm a Colts fan. However, it's clear Irsay might be a lone voice of reason in a sea of darkness and greed.