The sideshow all week centering around Indianapolis Colts owner Jim Irsay was indeed impressive.
It was a carnival that started off with a flurry of flying axes tossed by the blindfolded Irsay squarely at his former quarterback (Peyton Manning) followed up by a back-peddling unicycle trick on a high wire and finished off by the roar of the old, grizzled mountain lion known as Bill Polian.
Fourteen years of internal franchise dysfunction tripped and fumbled its way out of one neat, tidy little clown car for us all to see.
I ask that all of you loyal reader to please forgive me. I know a few of you wanted this comment earlier in the week, when Irsay was shooting his mouth off at Peyton - yes, he was - only to try and paint his obvious dig at the former Colts franchise QB as something that was misinterpreted by the EEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEVIL MEDIA and their "negative agendas!"
Here's the clip from Jerrett Bell's USA Today article and interview with Irsay that set this whole thing off:
"We've changed our model a little bit, because we wanted more than one of these," Irsay says, flicking up his right hand to show his Super Bowl XLI championship ring.
"(Tom) Brady never had consistent numbers, but he has three of these," Irsay adds. "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."
Then Irsay flicks up his right hand again.
Make no mistake. Irsay truly appreciates how Manning put his franchise back on the map, triggering a run of success — Indy won at least 12 games in seven consecutive seasons — that even contributed to the plush new stadium that has already hosted one Super Bowl and is in the running for another.
Yet Irsay sounds like he's hurt to have just the one ring.
Trust me, I wanted to write a comment, but I decided not to. I opted instead to just let the whole, beautifully orchestrated thing play out. I don't abide feeding trolls on my blog. So, why should I feed Irsay when he's clearly saying what he's saying - and then blaming others for actually reporting and interpreting what he's saying - because he wants all the attention focused on himself?
And you know what? By getting everyone talking about him, ole Jimmy managed to pull a fast one. He managed to take all the media pressure off his second-year quarterback and game management-challenged head coach, both of whom are coming off a terrible loss on the road to the Chargers.
Well played, maestro. Well played, indeed.
I'd like to thank Jim Irsay for speaking his truth. This is not support, or condemnation. Irsay said what he thinks/feels. Well done.— Jamal Anderson (@jamthedirtybird) October 17, 2013
Obviously, the person who, in my mind, comes out looking like the ass-end of an elephant is former Colts president Bill Polian. To say that this man has tarnished his legacy in Indianapolis is like saying Republicans in Congress might have a slight public relations problem. Sorry for the political reference, but it's all I got today.
Like the true media nitwit that he is, Polian took Irsay's bait, and rather than laugh it off or dismiss it as the mad ravings of a coked-up owner who wishes he was a character in a Louis Carroll novel, Polian lashed out and managed to piss off just about anyone left in Indianapolis who still held even the slighted hint of respect for him.
Bill Polian: I'm not speaking to Jim Irsay and I'm rooting for Denver http://t.co/A52DeVCgHC— ProFootballTalk (@ProFootballTalk) October 18, 2013
Run out of Buffalo. Run out of Carolina. Run out of Indianapolis. Polian being Polian.
I also wanted to hold off on commenting because I was too busy enjoying watching high profile members of corporate-controlled media claw each others eyes as if they were teenagers getting into a fight at their junior high school semi-formal dance.
NFL Network's Albert Breer v. NBC Sports' Mike Florio was the best of the cage match. Breer said Irsay's comments quoted in USA Today were misunderstood (hint, they weren't). Florio all but said Breer was carrying Irsay's water in exchange for more access to the Colts owner (hint, that's Florio calling Breer a hack).
We then had Irsay himself blast ESPN's Chris Mortensen, who was always thought to be Bill Polian's media megaphone for internal team leaks back when Polian ran the front office in Indianapolis.
Even Tony Dungy got in on the action!
One of the funnier comments I often hear from fans is how "unprofessional" we silly bloggers are when compared to the more "professional" established media. The people who make these comments have absolutely no idea. The cattiness and 8th-grade antics of most "professionals" in NFL media was front and center all week. I watched with a bag of popcorn and a bottle of Brooklyn Lager, Oktoberfest Seasonal, and loved every gory minute of it.
In the end, the week-long story of Sunday night's upcoming game was focused squarely on Jim Irsay himself.
Not his current quarterback, Andrew Luck
Not his bumbling in-game manager, Chuck Pagano.
All Jimmy, all the time.
As he has consistently done all season long, Jim Irsay has been masterful in taking situations that would focus attention on the shortcomings of his team and completely flipped the story on its head or distracted people's attention with jaw-dropping headlines.
Remember how awful the Colts offense was following their loss to the Dolphins? Remember how everyone forgot about that game following the GIGANTIC in-season trade for running back Trent Richardson?
See what I mean?
@StampedeBlue he’s brining large market coverage to a small market team. Genius if you ask me. Knows exactly what he’s doing.— Eric Conner (@econoar) October 17, 2013
Some will say that Irsay's comments will "fire up" Peyton Manning and motivate him to drop 60 points on the Colts. Whatever. Manning was already motivated. Outside of, maybe, Super Bowl XLI, this game will be the biggest of Manning's life in terms of personal motivation. He knows it's all about him, and he wants it to be about him. Peyton being Peyton. Irsay's comments don't change that.
All it's done is make an already super-hyped game even more of an mega event. Very few regular season games have this sort of attention circling them. Everyone will be watching Broncos at Colts Sunday night. Everyone. However, prior to the kickoff, the story won't be Luck v. Manning, or Pagano's struggles as a head coach, or the Colts soft defense against the run (ranked 31st in the entire NFL, in case you care).
No, the pre-game story is Jim Irsay, and that's just the way the crazy kook wants it. Gotta admire it. Showmanship at its finest, folks.
Irsay being Irsay.