For the first six weeks of the season and the first time since before the Colts moved to Indianapolis, Jim Irsay wasn't around the franchise. Instead, he was away during a league-mandated suspension following his arrest this past spring for operating while intoxicated. Now, Irsay is back, and on Wednesday he spoke with a few members of the Indianapolis media.
RTV6's Mike Chappell was one of those who Irsay spoke to. Here's what he wrote about the conversation:
"It's great to be back," he said while positioned behind his expansive desk. "I'm doing great."
Irsay admitted it was "tough" to be away from the team for the first six weeks of the season, and perhaps even tougher to watch games from his home rather than his suite at Lucas Oil Stadium.
"I paced and watched," he said.
Not only reflecting on the suspension, Irsay talked about moving forward. As Chappell wrote:
"I like to think a lot of good things have come out of it," he said. "Good things, great things are there to be grabbed from difficulties."
Irsay looked fit, which was in stark contrast to his appearance prior to his arrest in March. He wore a blue suit with a striped blue tie.
"I feel great," Irsay said. "I'm really doing well."
All the while, Irsay watched the games nervously with family and friends, pacing anxiously as he waited to return to owner's office he's had since 1997.
"I missed being there. It was tough not being with the guys before the game and praying with the guys before games. That was tough," he said, laughing as he acknowledged he talked with his daughters and relied on some of his favorite music to help him get through the tough times. A Jerry Garcia guitar was encased on the wall behind him.
"I really made up my mind to be positive about it," he added.
The Indianapolis Star's Stephen Holder had this from the Colts' owner:
"I've really taken it a day at a time, and I've really looked forward to moving forward and doing well," he said.
"I've always said I've felt the role of a steward here, a la (former Chiefs owner) Lamar Hunt. He talked about stewardship versus ownership. I take that seriously. You learn from your mistakes and you move forward and I think you can be a better person and better at everything in life and what you do. So I do feel like I'm moving forward. Again, I'm grateful to be where we are today and excited about what we have a chance to do."
Many of them noted how good Irsay looked compared to what he looked like earlier this year, including WTHR's Bob Kravitz:
<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" lang="en"><p>Irsay looked and sounded great. Different person from the one who was arrested a few months ago.</p>— Bob Kravitz (@bkravitz) <a href="https://twitter.com/bkravitz/status/522470265776005120">October 15, 2014</a></blockquote> <script async src="//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js" charset="utf-8"></script>
Several Colts, including general manager Ryan Grigson and head coach Chuck Pagano, have mentioned how huge it is that Irsay is back and how great of a thing that is for their owner to be back around. Not only is Irsay the boss, he's also the team's biggest fan and their greatest supporter. He hadn't missed a game since the team moved to Indianapolis, and this year he was suspended for six of them. It impacted him, but he still followed the team itching for the moment when he could return.
Now, the boss is back in the building, and to most people there won't be any noticeable difference. But to those inside the building - to Grigson, Pagano, and others - it's back to normal now that Jim Irsay is back. In his absence, his daughters Carlie, Casey, and Kalen ran the team, along with Pete Ward, Ryan Grigson, and Dan Emerson. They're all continuing the roles that they've held for a while - just now, Irsay is back. And that's a good thing for the Colts.
His suspension is over, Irsay is back, and perhaps most importantly, he's doing well. Many noted how he looks better, and he himself said that he feels great and is doing well. That's the best part out of all of this, and hopefully that continues. The owner of the Colts is back, and it's back to normal at the team's West 56th Street complex.