Bob Kravitz has since corrected the inaccurate suggestions he made in his story. As always seems to be the case with retractions or corrections, it happens quietly and more as a footnote, literally.
Yesterday Bob Kravitz incorrectly quoted me as having a conversation with Jim Irsay about Andrew Luck. Today Kravitz issued this correction. pic.twitter.com/QX8Y60La4a— Tony Dungy (@TonyDungy) November 7, 2017
Some will point out that this was just a mistake. That’s fair, we’re all human. But I stand by the fact the story was false and misleading because little or no effort was made to clarify or confirm what Kravitz was writing (lazy) and because he had been sitting on those comments waiting for the opportunity to run with it and when he thought he saw a reason to run it he did (sucker punch).
The whole drama build up of Dungy telling a secret not knowing he was on the air was pure fabrication to make it sound like a big deal. We wanted to let our readers and the Colts fan community know so they can help inform others.
It is fair to say that a thick cloud of uncertainty has been hanging over the Indianapolis Colts franchise since owner Jim Irsay announced that Andrew Luck had shoulder surgery in January. Irsay has made numerous comments in the months leading up to the 2017 regular season that gave fans reasons to believe that Luck would return for the season opener.
When that didn’t happen, fans were understandably upset.
Don’t think for a second that fans were the only ones who were upset. Veteran players who were hoping to make a run to the playoffs or have a chance at winning a championship, like Frank Gore, had to be discouraged about the team’s chances without its leader. The coaching staff knew they were under pressure to win and that doing so without Luck would be much more difficult. Even the team’s owner had to know that every game his star player missed led to a plummet in local interest, game attendance, and ticket prices.
It’s not overly surprising, then, that Jim Irsay expressed some concern in August (first on the 13th and again on the 31st) that some of Luck’s challenges during his return from surgery could be mental. The quote that was shared by Zak Keefer on August 31st:
It’s a great question. It’s been said before by one of the greatest athletes and competitors who’ve played any sport — the quote was this: “These games, all games, are played on a four-inch field between your ears.” That’s where it’s at. You have to be able to deal with this, no only physically but mentally. I have no doubt the Andrew Luck, the person that he is, he’s going to come out of this thing not just how he was but a better QB. When is the question. The timetable is more on the football Gods and Andrew’s gut feeling on how he’s feeling.
To fully understand the implications that might be behind these comments, it’s important to understand some background on Jim Irsay. A large fan contingency knows that Irsay had “prescription drug issues” and was arrested for a DUI. Few know much about what led to these things.
In an Indy Star story in June of 2014, Irsay was speaking out for the first time since his DUI arrest. In this story, Irsay discussed his addiction:
I still have chronic pain. But it was the good thing… In some ways, (going through rehab) is my greatest moment. It takes courage to try and overcome the difficulties you have. For some reason, it's seen as unheroic. When someone beats cancer, it's like, `Wow, that's so heroic,' but when someone has this illness, it's treated like you're a leper because that person is morally corrupt, and that's not the case. ... It's an ongoing thing in one's life when recovering from any disease. The disease never sleeps so you have to be proactive when dealing with it. But the journey is great because it forced you to grow spiritually. There's a lot of gratitude and spiritual growth. And it's rewarding because it makes you more virtuous when you have success.
There are some important pieces in Irsay’s comments that are applicable to Andrew Luck’s recovery from surgery. While Luck isn’t dealing with addiction, it is the pain or soreness that Irsay can relate to. The writer of this story, interestingly enough, was Bob Kravitz. He wrote:
Irsay wouldn't get into specifics, but suffice to say, he believes that because of his significant pain issues he began to lose his way with pain medication. This is not very different from what's happened in the past, what happens with millions of people in this country who deal with chronic pain. One day, a single Vicodin does the trick. Down the road, it takes several Vicodin. And oxycodone. And more. And next thing you know, you're in the throes of addiction once again.
So, the Colts owner has struggled with chronic pain for years. This owner has tried to find ways to manage that pain that has resulted in bouts with addiction. He waxed poetic, to none other than Bob Kravitz, about learning how to deal with that pain without relying on an addiction to prescription drugs and referred to rehab as a spiritual experience.
Then, three years later, when asked about how Luck was coming along from his injury he made comments that included a nod toward the mental aspects of going through a recovery from surgery (of which he has done more than once) and managing pain (of which he has personal experience).
Given all of this information, and the knowledge the Bob Kravitz personally handled the interview with Jim Irsay, let’s provide more chronological context around my qualms with his latest story on WTHR.
First, Kravitz wrote about the Colts handling of Andrew Luck’s injury situation on August 29th, 2017. In his story he said:
What we know is, he had the surgery in mid-January. It's a six-to-nine-month recovery. Now it's late August and we don't really know where he is physically. He's throwing a football, which is good, but we have no idea how well and with what kind of velocity and accuracy. And it's clear, and imperative, that the Colts take the long view on this surgery; Luck will be the face of the franchise for another decade, so any attempt to cut corners or rush him back would be negligent at best and criminal at worst.
So I didn't give the out-of-town radio guy what he wanted.
The Colts certainly fudged the facts last year when they insisted that all was well with their quarterback, but as far as the timing, the fact they gave him a few weeks to try rehab rather than go under the knife immediately, I have no problem with that. Even with the benefit of 20/20 hindsight.
Kravitz utilized his platform at WTHR to discuss the Colts handling of Andrew Luck’s injury, his surgery, his rehabilitation, and anything else that might be on his mind. In the face of Irsay’s comments on August 13th that referenced Luck’s potential mental challenges, Kravitz didn’t even bring it up.
The next story is even more important, as this story came a couple of days following Irsay’s comments on national television on August 31st. This story on September 2nd, 2017 discussed Luck’s return from the physically unable to perform list and the trade for Jacoby Brissett. Kravitz writes:
Take a deep, cleansing breath, and know that the franchise quarterback, Andrew Luck, was removed from the Physically Unable to Perform list Saturday afternoon and is now eligible to return to practice and play for the Indianapolis Colts.
Now, when will he start practicing? We have no idea.
When will he be ready to play in a game? We have no idea.
Not yet, anyway.
No mention of a reckless owner throwing around comments that might undermine his relationship with Andrew Luck? No suggestions that Irsay might be in the midst of pushing Luck out the door?
Team owner Jim Irsay was asked about his quarterback situation Saturday night. “The odds are most likely he probably won’t open up against the Rams,’’ he said. “But let me be clear about it: In our own minds, it’s something we haven’t ruled out. We’re going to see where he’s at. It would be awesome.’’
Here, Kravitz included a quote from Irsay regarding Luck’s status heading into Week 1. Armed with commentary that was widely available to the public, the same commentary he just wrote about today, he uttered not one sentence in reference. He offered no Twitter outcry and was utterly silent on the issue.
Now, suddenly, when Tony Dungy references the same or similar comments made six weeks ago (roughly mid-September) there is a reason to invoke panic inside the Colts fan base? There is a reason to suggest that Irsay is pushing Luck out of Indianapolis? All of the sudden there is a story?
I’m not buying it. The reality is that Dungy’s comments are immaterial. Everyone already knew that Irsay had made comments about the mental aspect of Luck’s recovery playing into his potential return. Kravitz tries to create relevance by pointing out that Dungy shared these comments when he didn’t realize he was on the air, which suggests that it was some kind of secret.
Don’t buy what Kravitz is peddling here. Unless Kravitz comes forward with something he knows that actually makes all of this relevant (he doesn’t have it or he would have), it’s just lazy, pot shot, sucker punch journalism.
This is a two month old headline released today to generate traffic and create turmoil in Indianapolis, potentially the Colts organization, and among a fan base that certainly doesn’t need anymore of it.
Editor’s Note: Irsay being frustrated is potentially material but the exact reasons for his frustration, and whether any of it is aimed directly at Andrew Luck, has not been verified. Kravitz openly admits that there has been no local validation to any rumors suggesting that Irsay is frustrated with Andrew Luck personally.