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Jim Irsay reflects on Marvin Harrison’s incredible career with Colts

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Miami Dolphins v Indianapolis Colts Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images

On Saturday, there will be a Colts reunion in Canton, Ohio. Jim Irsay, Peyton Manning, Reggie Wayne, Robert Mathis, Adam Vinatieri, and others will all be on hand to witness Tony Dungy and Marvin Harrison being inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame, an incredible honor for both men and for the franchise to have two members going in with the same class.

Irsay will be the one to present Marvin Harrison, as the receiver requested that the owner who gave him the shot be the one to present him into the Hall of Fame. Irsay is ecstatic about both Marvin and Dungy going in, and he’s working on what to say about Marvin that can adequately represent his greatness.

“Again, Peyton [Manning] and I had some long conversations about Marvin,” Irsay told the media on Tuesday night. “Obviously, I go back even before Peyton was even here and remember being in the locker room in 1996 when he came in. We thought, ‘Hey, this guy at least will be a heck of a punt returner and he has got quicks. At least he’ll be able to do punts for us.’ But again, going to talk about his work ethic – what a craftsman he was, what an artist and how hard he worked. How he never ever got tired. He was just so special. It’s going to be just an honor to be there because again, I really believe his specialness is very unique. I think there are some rooms, some floors higher in the Hall of Fame that are a little bit higher. I think he’s in that type of floor. He was such a rare player of greatness. Quite frankly, as you guys know, he couldn’t be covered. They had to change the rules to make sure some of our competitors were holding him, I won’t mention who and when, but Bill Polian could tell you now I’m sure if you asked him. Anyway, I’m just going to talk about his work ethic, and again, God gave him those gifts but his gift back to God is how hard he worked. Again, you can sum up Marvin’s career and what he thinks about playing football in the NFL by him saying, ‘You pay me to practice, Sunday is free.’ And that’s the way he did it. So just special.

Later on in the evening, Irsay spoke with the Indianapolis Star’s Zak Keefer to further explain the greatness of Marvin Harrison, emphasizing that Harrison had an intensity, more so than even Peyton Manning.

“More than anyone I’ve ever been around,” Irsay said. “Dangerous. If you get too close to it, you’re going to get burned. You touch that, you’re going to get burned. It was like a walking piece of fire. The fact that he hid it made it that much more intense. I’m just telling you one thing: That guy wanted to win, and he wanted to beat you. There was something about it, maybe there was something in his childhood — I’m not a psychologist and I’m not going to get into that sort of stuff — but I want to tell you something: He was the fiercest guy going after this thing that I’ve been around in my days, honest to God.”

In preparing for what he will say about Harrison on Saturday night, Irsay continually noted that he has had plenty of conversations with Peyton Manning to better understand Marvin’s greatness. And who better to advise him on number 88’s specialness than Manning, with whom Harrison holds the NFL records for most receptions, yards, and touchdowns between a quarterback/wide receiver duo?

“Peyton and I talked about his touchdown celebrations, what they entailed,” Irsay told Keefer. “Peyton and I have been really close since he decided to hang it up. It’s natural that we wouldn’t communicate when he was competing against me as a Bronco. Now that he’s retired and a Colt for life, we’ve had a lot of great conversations … he really spent some time going into Marvin and what he meant to us.”

Irsay didn’t leave Dungy out, however, as he expressed how much he’s excited about his former head coach being inducted as well.

“Obviously, Tony means so much to us going in,” Irsay added. “I can remember when we had to make a directional change on Jim Mora, and immediately calling Tony Dungy up when I knew he was available even before I talked to Bill Polian about it. Had a long, long conversation with him and knew he was our guy. Then, talked to Bill, and Bill talked to him and agreed, and the rest is history. So it’s going to be really exciting.”

Jim Irsay is the biggest Colts fan around, as he loves his franchise and loves reflecting on a very remarkable era of football. That’s what Saturday night will include, as the team’s all-time leading receiver and all-time winningest coach will be inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame, and Irsay will have a special part in Marvin’s induction. That’s fitting, as Marvin was such a special part of his franchise.